How a fan’s livestream of the Lynx preseason opener got 2.5 million views

Alli Schneider couldn't believe it.

Schneider, a four-year season-ticket holder, was at Target Center on Friday for the Lynx's preseason opener against Chicago.

It was the start of what could be a promising season for the Lynx and the professional debut of Chicago's Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso and Minnesota's Alissa Pili, three players who were taken in the top eight of the WNBA draft.

It also turned out to be a litmus test showing just how quickly interest in women's basketball — and women's sports — is growing.

The game was not televised, not available to be streamed, unlike Caitlin Clark's preseason debut against Dallas that same night.

So Schneider decided she would show it on her phone for her X followers.

"I started it up," Schneider, 27, said Monday. "And the numbers kept growing, and growing and growing."

Go to her profile on X — @heyheyitsalli — and you can see that. Upward of 200,000 were watching it live. As of Monday afternoon, the post had gotten more than 2.5 million views.

"It doesn't seem real," said Schneider, who lives in the Twin Cities area.

And it doesn't seem, to some, that the WNBA is taking full advantage of the booming interest in the sport.

Lynx President of Basketball Operations and head coach Cheryl Reeve — who will also coach Team USA in the Olympics this summer — tweeted in response to a league post Friday touting the Indiana-Dallas game, writing:

"ALSO in action tonight - @minnesotalynx vs @chicagosky ... Though fans won't be able to watch, #Lynx fans can go to the Lynx app to follow along via play by play."

She ended the tweet with two hashtags: #12teams and #theWismorethanoneplayer.

Many read that as a touch of bitterness that Clark is getting all the attention. Reeve, though, stressed that she doesn't have anything against Clark and is thrilled with what the former Iowa star has done for the sport (and might do for the WNBA). No, Reeve was just saying there is growing interest beyond that that needs to be harnessed.

After the game, Reeve joked that anyone who watched the stream should send $3 to Schneider. She said fan interest is growing exponentially and that business as usual isn't going to work anymore.

"There has been a thirst for this," she said. "What you have to weigh, they would tell you, is the production costs for a preseason game."

But the popularity of Schneider's stream might suggest otherwise.

"People want to see," Reeve said. "Certainly, Caitlin's first game, they were going to value. I'm all for that. I get it. People want to see it. But there is a general excitement about the WNBA that we haven't seen before, and we have to capitalize on these things to make sure this is a movement. So we'll learn."

Reeve joked that Reese and Pili should have streamed the game themselves.

Schneider? The numbers didn't seem real. She tried the same thing at a preseason game last year and got about 100 followers. On Friday, she just watched the viewership grow as the game went on.

Schneider, who grew up in Minnesota, was a fan of the Lynx from about the time Lindsay Whalen joined them in 2010. But she was away at college in western North Carolina during the team's title runs. But after she moved back, and after the pandemic eased, she jumped into season-ticket ownership, often going to games with her sister.

And it doesn't stop with the Lynx. She's a fan of other women's sports, too. "It's fun we have so many women's sports teams in Minnesota," she said. "It's kind of unusual, in a good way."

So will she try to stream a preseason game again next year?

"Hopefully I won't have to," she said.