The WNBA and ION agreement will increase the number of nationally televised games as the league nears the end of its media rights contract with ESPN.
As the WNBA continues to grow in popularity and reach, the league has announced a deal that will bring basketball into living rooms nationwide on Friday nights throughout the summer.
While ESPN and its family of networks remains the W’s primary home, ION has entered the fold as the league’s newest media partner, thanks to a multi-year broadcast contract. The first live sports deal for the Scripps-owned network will include nationally televised and regional games over 15 Fridays from May 26 to Sept. 8.
For years, legends of the league have spoken about the importance of visibility for the game to grow. While ION might not be the flashiest name, it will put more games on national TV than there otherwise would have been.
“The WNBA is thrilled to partner with Scripps to expand the league’s media horizon and reach basketball fans in greater numbers,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a release. “Access to watch WNBA games is in high demand, and Scripps’ dedicated Friday night lineup of WNBA games on ION will become much-desired appointment viewing for WNBA fans.”
Aside from the handful of national TV games and a weekly Amazon Prime game, WNBA fans have long had to rely on the league’s app to catch action and scores in real-time if they were not in local markets. Through the ION contract, Friday has a chance to live as a WNBA night the same way other leagues and days have become tied together in commerce and culture.
“The WNBA Friday Night Spotlight on ION brings women’s professional basketball the broadest possible reach with the consistency that fans, players, teams and the league deserve,” Scripps president and CEO Adam Symson added in the release.
Ready to start its 27th season, the WNBA has a chance to capitalize on the excitement around the women’s game as audience appetite increases. Thankfully, supply is coming closer to meeting demand.
This is great for fans and players alike.
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