ESPN’s coverage of the 2018 WNBA season will tip off Sunday, May 20, at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2 when the defending champion Minnesota Lynx — led by Maya Moore – host the 2016 WNBA champions Los Angeles Sparks and 2016 WNBA Finals MVP Candace Parker in a rematch of last year’s Finals. Regular ESPN WNBA reporter Holly Rowe will bring her years of WNBA reporting to the commentary booth and provide play-by-play alongside analyst Rebecca Lobo, with reporter LaChina Robinson. Former WNBA star Katie Douglas will serve as a studio analyst for the opener.
Ryan Ruocco will return as the lead play-by-play voice through the remainder of the season with analyst Lobo and reporter Rowe, while commentator Pam Ward will team with analyst Kara Lawson and reporter Robinson on select games. This season, ESPN will add perspective from WNBA legends serving as studio analysts including Douglas, WNBA pioneer and three-time WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie and six-time WNBA All-Star Chamique Holdsclaw.
In addition to serving as a women’s basketball reporter since joining ESPN in 1998, Rowe has previously delivered play-by-play commentary for women’s college basketball, softball, women’s college volleyball and gymnastics. Rowe has covered the WNBA for each of its past 21 seasons.
“The WNBA is an absolute passion of mine,” said Rowe. “So I am thrilled to get a chance to call play-by-play for not only the season opener, but the rematch of the last two WNBA Finals. I’ll be working with a newly minted Hall of Famer in Rebecca Lobo…no pressure at all! Telling the stories of these incredible athletes will be easy, and I hope to make the game fun and informative for viewers. I may not be perfect but no one will try harder to showcase this league I love so much.”
ESPN’s slate of games in the 2018 season will feature three rematches of last year’s WNBA Finals between the Sparks and the Lynx (May 20, July 5 and August 2), and will also include seven games for the Sparks and six for the Lynx. All 13 telecasts will feature at least one previous WNBA MVP, and 11 games will feature a former No. 1-overall draft pick including: the Lynx’s Moore and Seimone Augustus; the Sparks’ Parker and Nneka Ogwumike; the Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner; the Seattle Storm’s Sue Bird, Jewell Loyd and Breanna Stewart; the New York Liberty’s Tina Charles; and the Las Vegas Aces’ Kelsey Plum and A’ja Wilson.
All games will also stream live on the ESPN App. ESPN will again televise each game of the 2018 WNBA postseason from the first round to the Finals.
ESPN Production Highlights
ESPN will have several special telecasts this season featuring unique production methods tailored to offer commentary and analysis from some of the best voices in the game. On Thursday, May 24 – Los Angeles Sparks at Connecticut Sun – Lobo and Lawson will be the “Coaches on the Bench”, with each sitting on an opposing team’s side of the scorer’s table and offering viewers analysis and other details from a coach’s perspective on substitutions, play decisions and in-game adjustments. Ruocco will offer traditional courtside play-by-play commentary for the game.
Also, the Tuesday, July 24 game between the New York Liberty and the Minnesota Lynx on ESPN2 will be billed as a “Legends Game” with WNBA legends Lobo, Lawson and Leslie calling the game courtside, without a traditional play-by-play announcer.
“We’re looking to capitalize on the momentum we got from last year’s 2017 WNBA Finals, an incredible Women’s Final Four this year, and a highly rated WNBA Draft a few weeks ago to really showcase everything these amazing athletes can do,” said Rodney Vaughn, ESPN WNBA producer. “With fresh perspectives and different ways of looking at the game, we’ll be bringing fans an enhanced experience this season.”
More season highlights:
- ESPN will add two cameras to its in-game coverage, positioned beneath each basket to capture additional points-of-view and replay action in the paint;
- In select games, two player mics will be added to the coaches’ mics that are utilized during each game;
- ABC will broadcast the 2018 WNBA All-Star Game from the Target Center in Minneapolis, on Saturday July 28, at 3:30 p.m. on ABC. Additional details for ABC’s telecast will be released closer to the game.
Throughout the season, espnW columnist Mechelle Voepel will offer weekly pieces discussing some of the biggest stories in the league. Before the season tips off, espnW — which has already named its best WNBA players aged 25 and under and the five players who might become first-time WNBA MVPs — will continue to preview the 2018 season with analysis on all 12 teams and break down why we won’t see the Lynx and Sparks meet in the WNBA Finals for the third consecutive season.
- espnW will chronicle Gabby Williams’ rookie campaign with the Chicaco Sky all season long in her player diary with ESPN The Magazine’s Sean Hurd. In her debut entry Williams, a former UConn star who was the fourth overall pick in the WNBA draft, wrote about her introduction to the WNBA and what a whirlwind life has been since the draft.
- For the second consecutive season, ESPN Stats & Info will maintain and produce the WNBA Basketball Power Index. BPI-driven storylines and graphics will appear regularly on espnW digital and social platforms.
|Sun, May 20||5 p.m.||Los Angeles Sparks at Minnesota Lynx||ESPN2|
|Thu, May 24||7 p.m.||Los Angeles Sparks at Connecticut Sun||ESPN2|
|Fri, Jun 1||8 p.m.||Phoenix Mercury at Minnesota Lynx||ESPN2|
|Thu, Jun 7||10:30 p.m.||Seattle Storm at Los Angeles Sparks||ESPN2|
|Wed, Jun 13||7 p.m.||Washington Mystic at Connecticut Sun||ESPN2|
|Fri, Jun 22||10 p.m.||New York Liberty at Las Vegas Aces||ESPN2|
|Thu, Jun 28||9 p.m.||Los Angeles Sparks at Seattle Storm||ESPN2|
|Thu, Jul 5||8 p.m.||Los Angeles Sparks at Minnesota Lynx||ESPN2|
|Thu, Jul 19||8 p.m.||Washington Mystic at Dallas Wings||ESPN2|
|Tue, Jul 24||8 p.m.||New York Liberty at Minnesota Lynx||ESPN2|
|Sat, Jul 28||3:30 p.m.||2018 WNBA All-Star Game||ABC|
|Tue, Aug 2||10 p.m.||Minnesota Lynx at Los Angeles Sparks||ESPN2|
|Sun, Aug 12||7 p.m.||Los Angeles Sparks at Phoenix Mercury||ESPN2|
|Sun, Aug 19||7 p.m.||Washington Mystic at Minnesota Lynx||ESPN2|