ESPN Features WNBA Super Teams Liberty and Aces in 2023 Schedule

ESPN is leaning hard into the start of the WNBA’s super team era. Of the 25 games Disney’s networks will broadcast nationally this season across ABC, ESPN and ESPN2, nine will feature the Breanna Stewart-led New York Liberty and another seven include the reigning champion Las Vegas Aces, who added superstar Candace Parker to their roster this offseason.

Viewers can expect to see all 12 of the league’s teams on ESPN’s networks during the league’s 27th season, which tips off May 19, but none will be featured as often as the pair of expected powerhouses. Six other teams (Connecticut, Dallas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle and Washington) will each be showcased four times throughout the expanded 2023 regular season.

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ESPN will also resume its role as the WNBA’s postseason broadcast partner, airing as many as 27 additional playoff games across its platforms for a total of up to 52 games. The network’s coverage of last year’s postseason saw viewership jump 22% year-over-year—good for the most-viewed WNBA postseason since 2007—on the heels of the most-watched regular season since 2008 on ESPN.

“Our ongoing collaboration with the WNBA resulted in unprecedented growth and success last year, and we have a marquee schedule that will once again showcase the league’s best players and teams across ESPN platforms,” Matt Kenny, vice president of programming and acquisitions at ESPN, said in a statement.

Many of the league’s top players are now in Las Vegas and New York. Along with Parker (whose signing is at the center of a WNBA investigation into allegations of salary-cap circumvention), the Aces also added Alysha Clark to last year’s championship core of reigning MVP A’ja Wilson, WNBA Finals MVP Chelsea Gray, Sydney Colson, Kiah Stokes and a pair of All-Stars in Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum. The Liberty now boast Stewart, a two-time WNBA champion, along with four-time All-Star Courtney Vandersloot, former WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones, 2020 No. 1 pick Sabrina Ionescu and a solid group of returners, forming the Aces’ presumed rival.

The first game of the broadcaster’s 2023 slate will tap another key storyline of the upcoming WNBA season: Brittney Griner’s return to the court after her wrongful detention in Russia during the 2022 season. Griner and Diana Taurasi’s Phoenix Mercury will play their season opener against the Los Angeles Sparks on ESPN. The game will also stream on ESPN+, the first WNBA contest available on the worldwide leader’s streaming service.

Though Disney’s networks will air fewer regular season games than in 2022—last year, ABC picked up nine contests while ESPN aired another 25 across its networks, including 11 on its main channel—ESPN has focused on better broadcast windows and expanded its slate of complementary programming for 2023.

Google, one of the WNBA’s marquee partners, will sponsor the WNBA on ESPN regular season broadcasts as well as ESPN’s WNBA pregame show. At least 10 editions of WNBA Countdown, which was introduced during the 2022 postseason, will air throughout the season.

CBS, its streaming platform Paramount+ and CBS Sports will also return as league partners for the 2023 campaign, sharing the remaining WNBA inventory with NBA TV, WNBA League Pass (the W’s streaming platform), Meta Horizon Worlds and Twitter. In 2022, CBS broadcast 40 games between its flagship network and CBS Sports.

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