WNBA revenue may explode with TV deals reportedly poised to skyrocket from Caitlin Clark effect

Credit: Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

The WNBA’s popularity was steadily on the rise before Caitlin Clark’s arrival. With the Indiana Fever guard bringing even more fans to the league, WNBA revenue could reportedly skyrocket in the years to come.

It’s well-known that the NBA subsidized the Women’s National Basketball Association, covering significant operating expenses and helping the league at a time when it loses millions of dollars annually. While Clark’s arrival has brought a spike to TV ratings, attendance and merchandise sales, it’s still an uphill climb for WNBA revenue to climb into the green.

Related: Indiana Fever attendance, Caitlin Clark effect on display

Since Clark was drafted with the first overall pick, WNBA TV ratings have exploded with the league also averaging its highest attendance in nearly three decades. However, as Ben Strauss of The Washington Post recently reported, the WNBA is expected to lose an estimated $50 million this season.

Part of the reasoning for that is caused by how WNBA revenue is divided. The NBA currently receives approximately 40 percent of WNBA revenue each year, with the W’s other investors getting another 20 percent of that revenue. As a result, the league itself only receives about 40 percent of that remaining amount with WNBA players getting 10 percent of the revenue.

Related: WNBA Rookie of the Year race, see where Caitlin Clark ranks

However, another big factor in it is the existing WNBA TV rights deals. Currently, it’s estimated that the WNBA receives around $60 million annually from its broadcasting partners for rights to WNBA games. That’s reportedly projected to change dramatically once the deal expires.

According to Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports, new broadcasting rights deals with CBS, Amazon Prime Video, Disney and Ion could be worth up to $240 million annually.

Also Read: Where NBA revenue comes from

All of this comes at a time when the NBA is on the verge of finalizing new TV rights deals worth $76 billion over 11 years. Meanwhile, with the WNBA media rights contracts about to expire, the league is bringing record-setting ratings for women’s sports to the likes of ESPN, ABC and CBS. While the WNBA is part of the NBA, it has the right to seek its own media rights contract with TV and streaming partners.

Quadrupling the value of the TV rights deals would obviously result in a huge spike in WNBA revenue in the near future. Even with the NBA and outside investors receiving 60 percent of that total, the WNBA would still be able to significantly increase player salaries and move forward with league expansion.

Related: WNBA games today

So, while WNBA revenue in 2024 might finish in the red and headlines will be made about the league losing money, Clark and her peers are now well-positioned to cash in by the end of the 2025 season.

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