Don Staley, coach North Carolinahas been around women’s basketball long enough to attest to its problems WNBAa young federation that is gradually beginning to gain interest in sports in general.
“Maybe it seems like it’s too much for the decision-makers in our sport to allow us to do this,” said Staley, who led the Gamecocks to their second college basketball title this year.
The popularity of women’s sports has grown steadily in recent years, but 2022 marked a turning point. Many sports in their women’s affiliates have gained television audiences, endorsement deals, and notable coverage.
The WNBA’s last regular season was the most watched since 2006. Many stories from the women’s basketball league made headlines, since the two-time Olympic champion was arrested. Brittney Grinerfrom the Phoenix Mercury, until the retirement of Sue Bird, from the Seattle Storm and one of the most famous players.
according to ESPNwhich aired 25 regular season games and all playoffs, averaged 456,000 viewers, up 22% from 2021. It was thus the most-watched WNBA postseason since 2007.
The WNBA Draft averaged 403,000 viewers, the most since 2004, when Diana Taurasi was the first overall pick.
NBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said Major League Basketball and women’s college support each other in their development.
She added that the NCAA Women’s Championship, which had the most watched final in nearly two decades, sparked a boom in women’s basketball prior to the WNBA season. Now, Engelbert wants to see just how far that growth can go.
“I’m never satisfied,” Engelbert said. “My team is always asking for more. When you’re in hypergrowth mode, that’s what you have to do. We don’t rest. We have to take advantage of the momentum when there is… We have to keep pushing as well. We need more investment and valorisation.”
The league has an agreement with ESPN/ABC through 2025. The agreement paid $27 million in 2021 and $28.5 million last season.
The figure rises by $1.5 million per campaign to reach 33 million in 2025.
Women’s soccer has also grown in 2022.
And according to a study by FIFA, it has generated higher global revenues from sponsorship and broadcasting rights. Through a report released in October, world football’s governing body indicated that clubs recorded a 33% growth in commercial income from year to year.
77% of periodicals receive a sponsor name, up from the 66% noted the previous year.
This structural growth has been accompanied by an unprecedented public interest in women’s football.
Friendly match played in January between United State England’s Wembley sold out in one day and attracted nearly 78,000 spectators. Earlier, 87,192 people watched England beat Germany 2-1 in the Women’s European Cup final.
The latter was the largest crowd outflow for a Euro match, men’s or women’s.
“The number and types of different platforms that are bringing attention to women’s sports, not just soccer, shows there is interest,” said Kate Markgraf, general manager of the US Women’s Team.
In the United States, the women’s soccer league, the NWSL, has grown in popularity even in the midst of its abuse scandal.
An independent investigation commissioned by the NFL revealed in August that emotional abuse and sexual misconduct in the league was a systemic problem affecting many teams, coaches and players.
However, the NWSL Final, played on October 29, drew 915,000 viewers who tuned in to CBS in prime time, a league record.
With women’s soccer gaining momentum ahead of the upcoming World Cups in Australia and New Zealand, McGrave expects this year’s trend to continue for the foreseeable future. She wants the success and popularity of women’s football to have a personal impact on fans.
“When you go to a game and watch it, you are amazed and changed,” he said. “And if this happens more frequently, it will resonate more… This is the goal of soccer in America, to be one of the preeminent sports in our country.”