WNBA Announces Six-Year Deal with ABC and ESPN
As a new partner for the WNBA, ABC Sports will televise regular-season games on Saturday afternoon, as well as a slate of playoff games. ESPN, Inc., which has carried WNBA games since the league’s 1997 debut, is extending its relationship an additional six seasons and will televise regular-season and playoff games, plus the All-Star Game and the WNBA Draft, on ESPN2. ESPN2 – now in 84 million homes – will create a new half-hour pre-game show preceding each telecast.
Val Ackerman, WNBA President, said, "The WNBA's new television package validates the rapidly growing appeal of women's professional sports and proves that women's pro basketball will continue to be a major force on the national sports scene well into the future."
George Bodenheimer, ESPN President, said, "We are thrilled to extend our relationship with the leading and most successful women’s professional sports league in history. The WNBA continues to become a larger part of the sports landscape."
Howard Katz, ABC Sports President, said, "The WNBA is a terrific sports property that attracts a very desirable audience for advertisers. The interest in the WNBA is unprecedented for women's professional sports and we are happy to join forces with a property which continues to gain momentum."
WNBA games will be carried this summer on NBC, ESPN, ESPN2 and Oxygen Media.
The WNBA tipped off its sixth season on May 25 during Memorial Day weekend. The WNBA concluded the 2001 season by crowning a new champion for the first time in league history and recording the 10 millionth fan to attend a game since the league’s inception. During the 2001 season, more than 2.5 million fans attended WNBA games, the most ever, and for the fifth straight season, WNBA regular season attendance averaged more than 9,000 fans. The league’s combined local, national and international television coverage reached nearly 60 million fans. WNBA programming is broadcast to 178 countries in 24 different languages.
ABC SPORTS, ESPN AND THE NBA
Under terms of the new agreement with ESPN and ABC beginning with the 2002-03 season, ESPN will televise 75 regular-season games, with one game Wednesday nights and a doubleheader on Friday nights. ESPN will also exclusively televise one Conference Finals series and an expected 22 games in the first two rounds of the playoffs as well as the NBA Draft, a Draft preview show and NBA Draft Lottery. ABC will be the exclusive over-the-air network for NBA basketball televising up to 15 regular-season broadcasts. ABC will also carry playoff games, including the NBA Finals in primetime. In addition, ABC will televise NBA Inside Stuff, the league's Saturday morning youth magazine show. The agreement includes extensions of pre-existing deals between ESPN and the NBA covering ESPN Radio, ESPN Classic, ESPN.com, and the NBDL.