Caitlin Clark’s WNBA draft selection headlines largest WNBA TV audience since 2000

The Caitlin Clark effect was alive and well on draft night.

With Clark’s No. 1 overall selection to the Indiana Fever as the main draw, ESPN enjoyed record TV viewership numbers. Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports that the 2024 WNBA draft reeled in 2.45 million viewers on Monday night.

That figure more than quadrupled the audience of 572,000 viewers during the 2023 WNBA draft. Per Cydney Henderson of USA TODAY Sports, the audience peaked at 3.09 million viewers.

Per Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch, it also represented the largest TV audience for a WNBA telecast of any kind dating back to the year 2000. The Memorial Day game between the New York Liberty and Houston Comets in 2000 on NBC drew 2.74 million viewers.

Over the following quarter century since that Liberty vs. Comets contest on Memorial Day in 2000, no other no WNBA telecasts, including playoff and Finals games, has cracked the one million viewer mark, according to SMW.

Those TV ratings indicate that the Clark craze is likely to continue. All of this bodes well for the WNBA’s broadcast partners such as ESPN, Amazon, Ion and NBA TV. It looks like they are about to cash in on spiked viewership once more with Clark.

For the WNBA, Clark’s arrival into the league comes at a critical and picture-perfect time, too.

The league’s current broadcasting rights expire after the 2025 season. Currently, the WNBA pulls in $60 million a year for its rights fees vs. $2.7 billion annually for the NBA.

Early on, Clark’s ability to move the needle for the WNBA is obvious and apparent.

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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire