Spearheaded by the drafting of Sabrina Ionescu to the New York Liberty, the WNBA’s first-ever virtual draft was a major success for the league – and became a sign that the growth of women’s sports is one thing that cannot and will not be stopped by the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to a release, this year’s draft captured 387,000 viewers on ESPN – an increase of over 100 percent in comparison to the 2019 draft. It also stated that it was a 33% increase over the 2011 draft – the last time the primary ESPN channel aired a WNBA draft.
There were also 6.5 million video views for the WNBA draft on its social media handles.
Initially, when plans were announced for the draft, it was to be aired on ESPN2 before fan outcry urged the moving of the draft to the primary ESPN channel. That fan outcry, urged in part by the fact that ESPN and all other networks have no live sports to air, paid dividends as evidenced by these numbers.
2020 WNBA Draft most watched since 2004 and up 123% YOY. Being on ESPN v ESPN2 matters. The increase in WNBA coverage matters. Numbers will continue to climb if investment in coverage continues. Impressive ratings considering women’s sports receives 4% of sports media coverage. https://t.co/ssX8hi1fCN
— @coachhorowitz13 (@CoachHorowitz13) April 21, 2020