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WNBA opens 2024 season with huge spike in attendances

Featured image credit: Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) posted its highest attended opening month in 26 years as interest in the league grows, in large part due to the draw of Indiana Fever star Caitlin Clark.

The WNBA season began on May 14, and around 400,000 fans attended games over the course of May. More than half of all WNBA games were sellouts, which represents a 156% increase from last year.

Additionally, WNBA arenas were filled to a 94% capacity, a 17% increase from last year.

Clark was drafted first by the Fever in April after setting college records with the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Fever attracted 81,336 fans across its home games last season but the addition of Clark saw the team surpass this figure after just five games of the 2024 campaign, with each home game so far attracting at least 15,000 fans.

The Fever’s away opponents have also moved games to larger arenas to accommodate higher attendances. The team’s game at the Washington Mystics last Friday took place at Capital One Arena and attracted 20,333 fans – the highest attendance for an WNBA game since the 2007 Finals.

Clark’s fellow rookies Angel Reese (Chicago Sky), Cameron Brink (Los Angeles Sparks) and Kate Martin (Las Vegas Aces) have also been driving fan engagement. Throughout Tip-off Week, four of the five moments that drove the most engagement on social channels involved highlights of the four players.

WNBA merchandise sales have also seen a 236% year-on-year increase, with Clark, Reese and Brink ranking in the top five for jersey sales during the first week of the season. WNBA games are also averaging 1.32 million television viewers, nearly tripling last season’s average of 462,000.

Colie Edison, chief growth officer of the WNBA, said: “What’s happening now in women’s basketball is confirmation of what we’ve always known: The demand is there, and women’s sports is a valuable investment. We’re encouraged by growing engagement across all our verticals, especially as we welcome new and diverse audiences into our fandom. The WNBA continues to experience sustained growth as our league embraces this heightened momentum.”