WNBA ends May with biggest attendance in 26 years, new viewership records on multiple networks

The WNBA's 28th season is off to a roaring start. After an opening month that made headlines everywhere, the W announced Monday that approximately 400,000 fans attended games in May, the largest attendance in 26 years. The last time so many fans packed arenas to see WNBA games, it was 1999 and the league was entering just its third season.

The league's early season growth doesn't stop there. Across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and CBS, WNBA games are averaging 1.32 million viewers, nearly tripling last season’s average of 462,000 viewers. The Fever's games on May 14 (vs. Connecticut Sun), May 18 (vs. New York Liberty), and May 20 (vs. Sun) all set viewership records for the respective networks as their most-watched WNBA games of all time. The opening night game May 14 averaged 2.12 million viewers for ESPN2, May 18 averaged 1.71 million viewers on ABC and May 20 averaged 1.56 million viewers on ESPN.

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - JUNE 01: Aliyah Boston #7 and Caitlin Clark #22 of the Indiana Fever celebrate after defeating the Chicago Sky in the game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on June 01, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
The WNBA experienced an incredible amount of growth over the first month of the season. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

“What’s happening now in women’s basketball is confirmation of what we’ve always known: The demand is there, and women’s sports is a valuable investment,” said WNBA chief growth officer Colie Edison in a news release. “We’re encouraged by growing engagement across all our verticals, especially as we welcome new and diverse audiences into our fandom. The WNBA continues to experience sustained growth as our league embraces this heightened momentum.”

Here are even more tidbits about the WNBA's growth over its first month of the season:

  • Merchandise sales are up 236% over the 2023 season, with Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese and Cameron Brink ranking in the top five for jersey sales during the first week of the season.

  • WNBA League Pass subscriptions more than tripled in the first two weeks of the season, with the highest average minutes watched in league history. League Pass subscriptions for the month of May were up 335% from May 2023.

  • WNBA arenas were filled to an average 94% capacity, up 17% from last year.