WNBA sees big increases in ratings, attendance, sales and sponsorships in 2011

The WNBA had a banner year in 2011, increasing its attendance, TV ratings, merchandise sales and sponsorship deals at impressive rates. That's good news for fans of the league like me, though my favorite WNBA team, the New York Liberty, really hurt the league's overall attendance numbers this season.

WNBA game.
Wikimedia Commons

WNBA Attendance Up 5.8% in 2011 Excluding New York Liberty

Overall, attendance in the WNBA increased by 1.5% in 2011. My New York Liberty team though, saw a decrease in attendance of 30.4%. That was due to the Liberty having to play the 2011 season in the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey because of summertime renovations taking place at our usual home, Madison Square Garden.

If we take out the Liberty's attendance figures, the rest of the league saw a 5.8% overall increase in attendance in 2011. That's a pretty impressive gain, considering the current state of the economy this year.

TV Ratings

WNBA games on ESPN2 this season saw an overall increase in ratings of 5%. Roughly 270,000 fans watched games this season compared to 258,000 in 2010.

Ratings for the WNBA All-Star Game saw a huge 46% increase in 2011 vs 2009, which was the last time the league played an all-star game. In 2010, the league had Team USA play vs a WNBA All-Star team to help Team USA prepare for the FIBA World Championships.

Ratings for the WNBA Draft (first round) also increased 47% this year on ESPN vs what they were in 2010 on ESPN2.

WNBA Got New Sponsorships

Teams in the WNBA added eight new marketing sponsorships this season. That includes a big million dollar plus deal the league signed with Boost Mobile, which marks the first time the league itself has been able to sign a big sponsor. Boost Mobile is a large prepaid wireless communications brand owned by Sprint.

WNBA Website Had Big Traffic Gains

The league's WNBA.com website saw an 11% increase in traffic during the 2011 season. Even better, the website experienced a 13% increase in daily unique visitors. LiveAcess, the WNBA's live game streaming service available at WNBA.com saw a huge 55% increase in viewership.

WNBA Had Big Increases on Social Media Sites

The official WNBA page on Facebook saw an increase of 11% in traffic. The WNBA has its own channel on YouTube, and the channel saw an increase of 35% in total views. The WNBA on Twitter now has over 181,000 followers.

Merchandise Sales Up Double Digits

Sales of jerseys and other WNBA merchandise increased by 12% this season at the WNBA's online store. As a great sign for the future, the player with the top selling jersey this year was Maya Moore of the Minnesota Lynx. Maya was Rookie of the Year in the WNBA in 2011. Another young player, Essence Carson, who plays for my New York Liberty team, had the third best selling jersey.

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Updated Monday, Oct 3, 2011