The WNBA capped off its historic 25th regular season by delivering its most-watched season since 2008 for its television partners – ABC, CBS, ESPN and ESPN2 – with viewership up 51% over the 2020 season, and by setting records for merchandise sales online and engagement across its social media platforms.
The WNBA reached several milestones in its landmark season. The league started the 25th season by introducing its new official game ball by Wilson Sporting Goods through a new multiyear global partnership. The WNBA also welcomed Google as its newest WNBA Changemaker, joining AT&T, Deloitte and Nike. A multi-year deal with Amazon Prime Video made the WNBA the first women’s professional sports league to be streamed on Prime Video. In addition, DICK’S Sporting Goods became the largest national retailer for WNBA merchandise, and Buzzer began featuring live content and WNBA League Pass games on its mobile platform in the company’s first foray into women’s professional sports.
For the first time in league history, the WNBA used in-game wearables by KINEXON and optical tracking technology by Hawk-Eye to generate 3D immersive highlights, which were used in real time during Prime Video’s broadcast of the inaugural WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game.
In addition, the league teamed up with Dapper Labs, the company behind NBA Top Shot and the Flow blockchain, to launch WNBA Moments on Top Shot, giving fans the ability to own dynamic in-game moments from WNBA players and legends.
Other highlights from the season include:
- VIEWERSHIP: Combined viewership for the WNBA across ESPN Networks (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2) and the CBS Television Network was up 51% over the 2020 regular season, making it the most-viewed season for the league’s television partners since 2008. The league also delivered its most-watched regular-season game since 2012, with ABC averaging 755,000 viewers for a matchup between the Seattle Storm and Chicago Sky on Aug. 15.
- MERCHANDISE: Spurred by sales of the new Nike H.E.R. system, which features three uniform editions for each of the 12 teams, WNBA merchandise on WNBAStore.com saw record growth this season with a 50% increase over last year. The Orange WNBA Logo Hoodie was the best-selling item on WNBAStore.com for the second consecutive season.
- SOCIAL MEDIA: Across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, the WNBA set records for social media engagement with 135 million video views and 14.5 million actions.
The WNBA Playoffs 2021 presented by Google tipped off on Thursday, Sept. 23, with two first-round, single-elimination games on ESPN2. The sixth-seeded Chicago Sky defeated the seventh-seeded Dallas Wings, 81-64, and the fifth-seeded Phoenix Mercury edged the eighth-seeded New York Liberty, 83-82, to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
The four-round WNBA postseason features the eight teams with the best regular-season records. The top two seeds – the No. 1 Connecticut Sun and the No. 2 Las Vegas Aces – earned a double bye into the WNBA Semifinals (third round). The third and fourth seeds – the No. 3 Minnesota Lynx and the No. 4 Seattle Storm – received a bye into the second round. The first and second rounds are single-elimination games. The WNBA Semifinals and the WNBA Finals 2021 presented by YouTube TV are a best-of-five series.
The WNBA Playoffs will feature a maximum of 19 games, all available across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and the ESPN App.