Caitlin Clark, other rookies already huge for WNBA attendance, ratings

May 22, 2024, 12:48 PM

Caitlin Clark WNBA Indiana Fever...

Caitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever celebrates during a May 20, 2024 game. (Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

(Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) — Fueled by its sensational rookie class of Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese and Cameron Brink, the WNBA had a huge first week in terms of attendance, ratings and digital media.

The league saw a 14% increase in attendance from last year with both New York and Indiana leading the way with more than 17,000 fans at their home openers. The Liberty became the first team in WNBA history to have more than $2 million in ticket revenue for a single game in it’s opener.

In all, there were 10 sellouts during the league’s opening week.

Ratings have been historic. ESPN’s broadcast of Clark’s opening night game when the Indiana Fever played the Connecticut Sun had the highest viewership for a WNBA game on the network. It drew an average of 2.1 million viewers.

Clark will make her WNBA Seattle debut at 7 p.m. Wednesday night when the Fever take on the Storm at Climate Pledge Arena.

Seattle Storm’s Big Games: Caitlin Clark visits and more

A doubleheader on Saturday that was on ABC featuring Clark and the Fever against New York and Los Angeles against Las Vegas put up impressive numbers as well. An average of 1.71 million viewers watched the first game while 1.34 million saw the Sparks and Aces contest.

“We’re never satisfied as we want more tune in and more fans, but are really, really pleased,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “That’s viewership against really tough competition of the Knicks and the hockey and Game 7s, it’s not lost on me.”

Monday night’s game, which was a rematch of the Sun and Fever, drew 1.56 million viewers on ESPN.

“It’s not lost on me that on a Monday night to pull in that number, that’s a really good sign,” Engelbert said. “Historically a lot of sports leagues don’t do well that night except for Monday Night Football.”

In all, the five games on ESPN networks this year have averaged 1.43 million viewers, which is up 181% from the same number of games last season. It’s up 226% from last season’s average.

ESPN picked up the Chicago-Indiana game on June 1 that will feature the first meeting between Reese and Clark.

Digitally, league pass purchases were up 182% from last year and app downloads were up 146%.

The rookies are also driving the sale of merchandise. Online sales at the WNBA store have already eclipsed the total for all of last season.

Monday: Seattle Storm fall to undefeated New York Liberty 74-63

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Caitlin Clark, other rookies already huge for WNBA attendance, ratings