October 22, 2021 

WNBA 25 viewership takes off

2021 clocks in at the most viewed postseason since 2014

The WNBA’s television viewership continues to grow rapidly on ABC and ESPN.

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This season was the most-viewed Finals since 2017, the playoffs were the most viewed postseason since 2014 and regular-season viewership was up 49 percent over the 2020 regular season and 24 percent over the 2019 season. Every category of season play surpassed recent records.

An average of 548,000 viewers tuned in to the four-game Finals series against the Phoenix Mercury and Chicago Sky that ended in an exhilarating back and forth on Sunday culminating with the Sky’s first-ever franchise win and on their home court.

Game 1 was the most-viewed Game 1 Finals appearance since 2017 and averaged 456,000 viewers and peaked at 547,000.

Game 2 on ESPN especially hit records, with 789,000 viewers and peaking at a million. The second installment of the Phoenix vs. Chicago showdown is the most-viewed Game 2 since 2003 and the most-viewed Finals game since Game 5 in 2017.

Game 3 was the most-viewed non-title clinching Game 3 since 2007, garnering 524,000 viewers. The title-clinching Game 4 averaged 417,000 viewers and with a 623,000 peak.

The pre-Finals postseason also broke recent records, clocking in at an average of 367,000 viewers per Playoff game, 63 percent higher than the entire 2020 postseason. This was the most-watched postseason since 2014.

The regular season made a considerable showing as well. ESPN and ABC games averaged 306,000 viewers. The most viewed regular-season game since 2012 was this year’s Aug 15 showdown between the Seattle Storm and Chicago Sky. The game averaged 755,000 viewers.

The other four most-viewed games, also breaking 2012 regular-season records, were July 11’s Las Vegas Aces at Dallas Wings game with 643,000 average viewers, May 15’s Chicago at Washington Mystics game with 611,000 viewers, May 15’s Las Vegas at Seattle game with 598,000 viewers. And June 5’s Las Vegas at Washington game with 556,000 average viewers.

The regular-season viewership records were dominated by Las Vegas, who played in three of the five most viewed games. Seattle and Washington also garnered mass viewership, with two games apiece in the top five.

The growth in viewership marks a significant increase in interest and investment in the league. Along with the increase of television viewership, increased jersey sales and other growth metrics signify that the league is continuing on an upward trajectory.

The league’s growing popularity means only more investment going down the line and even potential city expansion. The W will continue to build off this momentum and maintain increasing viewership throughout their 26th season starting in May 2022.

Written by Gabriella Lewis

Gabriella is The Next's Atlanta Dream and SEC beat reporter. She is a Bay Area native currently studying at Emory University.


  1. Justin Behan on November 2, 2021 at 7:50 am

    I’m curious how this compares to viewership in the late 90s, when the W was given it’s biggest push to date by the networks… though such a study would be apples-and-oranges, given the nascent internet and incredibly disparate cultural times as compared to now. Perhaps a more important study would be a corporate investment comparison between then and now. I hope this translates into greater ticket sales in 2022, when hopefully all venues can be at 100% capacity… and with greater attendance, that will help quiet the naysayers a bit further.

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