September 15, 2023
WNBA broke viewership, attendance and social media engagement records in 2023
Players also set new records on the court for points and assists
The business of women’s basketball is booming and the WNBA met record-high demand with historic on-court production in Year 27.
According to numbers released by the WNBA on Wednesday, the 2023 regular season drew its highest viewership in 21 years and its highest attendance in 13. Social media engagement and digital audiences also increased by 96% as individual players broke records on the court across the league’s first 40-game slate. The previous high, played in 2021 and 2022, was 36 regular season games.
Viewership increased by 21% over the 2022 Regular Season
During the 2023 WNBA regular season, the combined viewership across ESPN networks and the CBS Television Network increased by 21%. That accounted for an eight percent increase over the 2022 season and an average of 505,000 viewers.
More than 36 million viewers tuned in across all national networks, marking the league’s highest viewership since 2008. It was a 27% increase from 2022.
More specifically, the WNBA on ABC had its most-viewed regular season since 2012, averaging 627,000 viewers. The 2023 WNBA Draft, which aired on ESPN, had an audience of 572,000 for a 42% increase from the previous season. It was the most-watched WNBA Draft since 2004.
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WNBA posts the highest average in attendance since 2018
During the 2023 regular season, the WNBA also experienced a 16% increase in fan attendance for an average of 6,615 fans per game – the highest since 2018. Overall, they recorded their highest attendance since the 2010 season, with a total of 1,587,488 fans.
The Las Vegas Aces, who won the 2022 WNBA championship, led all teams with an average of 9,551 fans per game. That was a 66% increase from the previous season. They also recorded the highest attendance for a single regular-season game, with 17,406 fans at Michelob ULTRA Arean for their Sept. 10 game against the Phoenix Mercury.
On May 13, the WNBA held a preseason game in Toronto between the Chicago Sky and Minnesota Lynx. It was the league’s first game in Canada and it drew a sold-out crowd of 20,000 fans at Scotiabank Arena.
WNBA skyrockets in digital audiences, sports betting, and this year’s All-Star Game in Las Vegas
The WNBA set a new record with 373 million video views, 20 million engagements, and 1.1 million hours of viewing time across all league social media accounts. These figures represent a 96%, 65%, and 42% increase from last season.
The 2023 WNBA All-Star Game held in Las Vegas also broke records becoming the most-watched WNBA All-Star game since 2007. The event set a new record for merchandise sales with a 107% increase from last year’s sales in Chicago and saw a 658% increase in sales compared to the 2021 game in Las Vegas.
The 2023 WNBA All-Star Game also set a new high record with 16 licensees across six locations onsite. There was a 33% increase in fan voting, alongside a 100% growth in partner activation.
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WNBA players breaking records on the court
Jewell Loyd of the Seattle Storm, Breanna Stewart of the New York Liberty, and A’ja Wilson of the Las Vegas Aces have surpassed Diana Taurasi‘s record for most points scored in a single regular season. Taurasi had set the record during the 2006 season in 34 games with 860 points scored. Loyd now holds the league’s single-season scoring record with 939 points for the Storm at an average of 24.7 points per game.
Taurasi, who recently announced her intentions to return for a 20th season, became the first player in league history to score 10,000 career points. She achieved the feat during a home game against Atlanta on Aug. 3.
Scoring was up across the league this year with a record-high 13 40-point games, which was 10 more than any other season. That included six from Stewart alone. There were also 13 triple-doubles recorded across the league. That was six more than the previous season and four more than the total of nine that occurred in the first 25 years of the league combined. Alyssa Thomas of the Connecticut Sun had six triple-doubles on her way to setting a new single-season assist record with 316.
Sabrina Ionescu of the New York Liberty made 128 three-pointers, surpassing the previous record of 121 set in 2006 by Taurasi.
Written by Aya Abdeen
Aya Abdeen is a student in sports journalism at Arizona State University and has been a contributing writer for The Next Hoops since December 2022. Her work has also appeared on AZPreps365.