Sunday, May 19, 2024

Fever’s Star Power Ignites WNBA Broadcast Boom with Caitlin Clark at the Helm

In a pivotal move for the WNBA’s visibility, the Indiana Fever, poised to select University of Iowa standout Caitlin Clark as their top draft pick, will dominate this season’s national broadcasts. An impressive 36 out of their 40 games will be aired across major networks, spotlighting the league’s increased focus on rising stars and engaging matchups.

The WNBA unveiled its 2024 national broadcast schedule on Wednesday, committing to air 25 regular-season games and all playoff matches on ESPN/ABC platforms. This strategic emphasis is set to capitalize on the allure of newcomer Caitlin Clark, who is anticipated to join forces with last year’s top draft, Aliyah Boston, creating a powerhouse duo in Indiana. The Fever aims to leverage this attention to end a playoff drought that began after the retirement of franchise icon Tamika Catchings in 2016.

Indiana’s schedule includes extensive coverage with eight games on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2, 13 on NBA TV, eight on ION, four on Prime Video, two on CBS, and one on CBS Sports Network. The broad exposure promises to draw fans from two of the largest women’s college basketball communities, rallying behind Boston and Clark.

Meanwhile, the two-time defending champions, the Las Vegas Aces, spearheaded by A’ja Wilson and Candace Parker, will have 35 games broadcast, nearly matching Indiana’s screen time. The New York Liberty, powered by Breanna Stewart, will see 31 games aired. Notably, last season’s finalists, Las Vegas and New York, are scheduled for three high-stakes regular-season meetings, each to be showcased on ABC, ESPN, and CBS, underlining the league’s marquee matchups.

The season’s broadcast slate kicks off with an ESPN2 doubleheader on May 14, featuring Clark’s much-anticipated professional debut against the Connecticut Sun, immediately followed by a celebratory game for Las Vegas against Phoenix. This opening night sets the stage for a season rich in narrative and competition.

Commissioner Cathy Engelbert commented on the robust lineup, noting the momentum from last year’s historic viewership highs. She highlighted the league’s strategy to amplify its stars and rivalries through substantial national coverage.

The mid-season WNBA All-Star Game is scheduled for July 20, televised in primetime on ABC, where it will showcase a face-off between USA Basketball’s women’s national team and other top league talents. This, coupled with the skills challenge and 3-point contest the day before, will ensure continuous engagement throughout the season, even as it pauses in August for the Paris Olympics, before resuming with more captivating matchups.

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