April 17, 2024 

Inside the 2024 WNBA Draft audience records

Draft is most-watched WNBA event since 2000

The Caitlin Clark effect continues to reverberate. On Tuesday, ESPN announced that the 2024 WNBA Draft had set a new record for being the most watched draft in the league’s history, with 2.45 million viewers. This marks an increase of 307 percent compared to last year’s draft and surpasses the previous record set by the 2004 WNBA Draft, which had 601,000 viewers and featured UConn star Diana Taurasi being selected at No. 1 overall by the Phoenix Mercury.

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Stathead Stat of the Week

Last year, A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart broke the record for most win shares in a WNBA season, with 10.4 and 10.3, respectively.

In addition, they became the second and third players ever to have a season with at least six offensive win shares and three defensive win shares. Do you know the other player to do it? You can see the answer in Stathead! 

Stathead is your all-access pass to the Basketball and College Basketball Reference databases. Our discovery tools are built for women’s basketball fans like you. Answer your questions in a matter of seconds.

This year’s draft had the largest audience for any WNBA event since 2000, when the Houston Comets vs. New York Liberty game was aired on NBC before the NBA conference finals. 

The 2024 WNBA Draft was the most-watched program of the night among viewers under 35, and attracted a total of 1.06 million female viewers. Also, social engagement increased by a total of +1,164 year-over-year. In the past year, the league has surpassed MLB (744,000 viewers) and NHL (681,000 viewers) regarding draft viewership across major league sports in North America.

The 2024 WNBA Draft showcased a new generation of emerging stars, with one player’s jersey selling out within the first hour of the pick announcement.

The Indiana Fever selected Clark out of Iowa with the first overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft. The team hosted a watch party, and thousands of fans and players at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse erupted after WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert announced the pick.

Clark and Aliyah Boston, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 WNBA Draft, shared a special moment when they met for the first time as teammates in Brooklyn. Because of the Clark effect, 36 of the 40 games for the Indiana Fever in the upcoming regular season will be nationally televised.

The Los Angeles Sparks used No. 2 and No. 4 overall picks on forwards Cameron Brink out of Stanford and Rickea Jackson out of Tennessee, respectively. The Chicago Sky drafted South Carolina center Kamilla Cardoso and LSU forward Angel Reese as the No. 3 and No. 7 picks, respectively, adding star power to their team under the leadership of new Sky head coach and WNBA legend Teresa Weatherspoon.

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The 2024 NCAA Tournament title game between Iowa and South Carolina also broke records on viewership with nearly 19 million viewers. According to Nielsen, it surpassed the men’s tournament for the first time and has become the highest-viewed basketball game at any level since 2019. The WNBA commissioner believes this all positively impacts the ongoing media rights negotiations.

“As you know, the media landscape continues to be enormously disrupted, with household and people using TV levels down, with obviously cord cutting, with streaming, with over-the-air,” Engelbert said Monday night. “Obviously, there’s a lot going on subscription-wise, cable. So we’re looking at all of that disruption and determining what is the best deals with partners for the WNBA, including, again, traditional linear, streaming and over-the-air.”

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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 since December 2022. She is also a sports reporter for the Sun Devils’ women’s basketball team for The State Press. Her work has also appeared on AZPreps365.

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