WNBA going all-in on Caitlin Clark, TV schedule reveals

The WNBA is leaning heavily into the Caitlin Clark effect.

The league announced the 2024 WNBA television and streaming schedule Wednesday, with a significant focus on the Indiana Fever — which will likely use its No. 1 pick in the draft on the star Iowa point guard, whom helped break attendance and TV ratings records in the 2024 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.

Indiana will have 36 of its 40 games featured by the WNBA’s national broadcast and streaming partners: eight games across ABC, ESPN and ESPN2, eight matchups on ION and two on the CBS Television Network.

Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark (22) is introduced during the 2024 NCAA Women’s national championship game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Caitlin Clark of the Iowa Hawkeyes is guarded by Raven Johnson of the South Carolina Gamecocks during the NCAA Women’s national championship at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on April 7, 2024 in Cleveland, Ohio. Getty Images

Additionally, the Fever will be featured 13 times on NBA TV, four times on Prime Video, and once on CBS Sports Network.

It’s a stark difference from last season, when the Fever — with a roster that featured 2023 Kia WNBA Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston — had one game on national television.

Some WNBA teams have increased ticket prices for games against Indiana, according to Front Office Sports.

One of those teams reportedly included the Mercury, which promoted a flyer on social media this week for their matchup with the Fever on June 30 with a silhouette that resembled Clark wearing a No. 22 jersey, her college number.

Caitlin Clark of the Iowa Hawkeyes shoots over Chloe Kitts of the South Carolina Gamecocks during the NCAA Women’s national championship at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on April 7, 2024 in Cleveland, Ohio. Getty Images

The image featured three-time champion Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi and Clark — the NCAA’s all-time Division I leading scorer — with the caption: “The GOAT vs THE ROOK.”

The broadcast schedule was released after data confirmed that NCAA women’s national championship game drew a larger audience in TV ratings than the men’s.

Monday’s men’s game on TNT and TBS, in which UConn defeated Purdue to win its second straight title, drew an average of 14.8 million viewers, according to The Athletic.

The women’s game on ABC and ESPN, which saw the undefeated South Carolina beat Clark and Iowa, took in 18.7 million viewers — more than any basketball game (men’s or women’s and college or professional) since 2019, according to ESPN.

The broadcast peaked at a stunning 24 million viewers.

It’s all proof that the Caitlin Clark effect is alive beyond the collegiate level.

Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark (22) hits a three pointer just inside the half-court line Michigan Wolverines during the first half of a Big Ten Women’s Basketball tournament semifinal at Target Center. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con
An 8-year-old from Minn. holds up a homemade sign in support of Iowa’s Caitlin Clark while waiting in line to enter before Iowa-Penn State NCAA game in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten women’s tournament on March 8, 2024, in Minn. AP

The 2024 WNBA broadcast schedule also emphasized four other teams — including the two-time defending WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces, New York Liberty, Dallas Wings and Phoenix Mercury — with exciting storylines this coming season.

The Aces, who have the second-most appearances across all platforms, are vying to becomce the first team to win a third consecutive championship since the then-Houston Comets won four straight from 1997-2000.

The Liberty, who came up short versus Las Vegas in the WNBA Finals last year, have the third-most national broadcast appearances, followed by Dallas and Phoenix.

The WNBA’s marketing for this year’s draft, which will take place at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on April 15, features Clark and a number of college stars that helped grow the women’s game: LSU’s Angel Reese, South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso and Stanford’s Cameron Brink.

“With the energy and excitement already generated by what we anticipate will be a star-studded rookie class, and on the heels of a 2023 season that featured one of the greatest MVP races in WNBA history and our most-watched regular season in over two decades, the WNBA’s broadcast and streaming partners are offering a huge national platform that will showcase the league’s superstars, rising stars, rivalries and a newly reconfigured WNBA Commissioner’s Cup presented by Coinbase,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said.

The 2024 WNBA Draft will air on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. ET.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *