WNBA on ESPN
|WNBA on ESPN|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Running time||120 minutes+ (ESPN)
150 minutes+ (ABC)
|Original channel||ESPN (1997 – present)
ESPN2 (2001 – present)
ABC (2003 – present)
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
|Original run||1997 – present|
The WNBA on ESPN refers to the presentation of Women's National Basketball Association games on the ESPN family of networks. Under the title of WNBA Tuesday, games are broadcast throughout the WNBA season on Tuesday nights on ESPN2.
In June 2007, the WNBA signed a contract extension with ESPN. The new television deal runs from 2009 to 2016. A minimum of 18 games will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 each season. Additionally, a minimum of 11 postseason games will be broadcast on any of the three stations.
Along with this deal, came the first ever rights fees to be paid to a women's professional sports league. Over the eight years of the contract, "millions and millions of dollars" will be "dispersed to the league's teams."
Announcers change from year to year, but recent play-by-play personalities have included: Terry Gannon, Mark Jones, Dave Pasch and Pam Ward. Generally, game broadcasts include a pair of announcers—alongside those providing play-by-play are the color analysts which have included: Doris Burke, Nancy Lieberman, Carolyn Peck, Rebecca Lobo.
One unique aspect of WNBA coverage on the ESPN family of networks is that many of the participants wear live microphones. Starting with the 2003 WNBA All Star Game (which aired on ABC), most games televised have involved coaches, players and referees being wired for sound. On some occasions, the sound of players and coaches talking will overlap with commentary; also, on several occasions, ESPN has had to mute the sound because of expletives.
|“||I just hear from our family and friends back home that, 'Boy, ESPN is killing you guys,' ... 'And (Nancy) Lieberman and Doris Burke are just trashing you left and right.' Not only me, but also some of our players on our ballclub. ... We're telling ESPN today to basically stick it.||”|
Laimbeer banned ESPN from the Shock locker room for Game 4 of the series, and also refused to wear a live microphone for that game (as had been the custom throughout the regular season and the playoffs).
Saturday and Sunday afternoon games are broadcast on ABC. Tuesday night games are broadcast on ESPN2. On opening day (May 17, 2008), ABC broadcast the Los Angeles Sparks and Phoenix Mercury matchup. The game received a little over 1 million viewers. Average viewership for games broadcast on national television (ABC and ESPN2) was 413,000 (up from 346,000 in 2007).
In 2008, the WNBA finished up in key demographics on ESPN2—Women 18-34 (+71%) and Men 18-34 (+28%) – and on ABC—All Women (+10%) and Women 18-34 (+20%).
The 2009 regular season on ESPN2 (13 telecasts) concluded with an average of 269,000 viewers, up 8% vs. 2008 season (248,000 viewers). In addition, regular-season games on ESPN2 saw increases in key demographics, including men 18-34 (+9%), men 18-49 (+14%) and men 23-54 (+23%).
|WNBA network broadcast partner (ABC, ESPN)
2003 – present