Night Light | Ball Me, Blazer

Women’s Basketball Has Transcended

Last Monday’s game between Iowa and LSU broke the record for the most-watched women’s basketball game in history. The game had an average viewership of 12.3M (peaking at 16M). The same night UConn-USC peaked at 10.4M viewers. I feel like women’s basketball has transcended men’s basketball this year, and it’s not even close.

We have WBB fever.

What’s going on?

I can’t name one player in the men’s Final Four. We’ve talked about Caitlin Clark before, but there are plenty of other extremely talented players bringing new fans to the sport. Angel Reese, Juju Watkins, and Paige Bueckers have hundreds of thousands of followers on their Instagram accounts. Social media has played a large part in the sport’s visibility, offering a way for fans to connect with players off of the court.

To put it in perspective the #1 men’s NCAA player has 76K followers

Women’s basketball has been thriving for a while now; it’s just that more of us are now seeing it in the news and social media. We’re also seeing ticket prices go up. The average cost of a tournament game this year was $2,300, double the cost of a men’s game.

The women’s tournament has significantly fewer seats available on Ticketmaster

Why playing the full 4 years matters.

There’s significantly less money in the WNBA. Caitlin Clark is probably making more money now in NIL deals than she will in the WNBA. The incentive to leave and go pro is far lower for women than it is for men. The top 10 rookies in the NBA are signing contracts from $4 to 10M, whereas rookies in the WNBA are making around $80k. The incentives are completely different between the two.

Caitlin Clark x State Farm, just part of her $3.1M in NIL deals

Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese are both seniors. When you stay for 4 years, the fans care more deeply. She also got an offer to play in the BIG3 League for $5M, which would make her the first female to join the league. Since 2006 there have been 107 1-and-done players who were selected in the NBA draft. There aren’t any athletes that go 1-and-done in women’s basketball, it’s not even possible.

The Big Takeaway:

We could be in a bubble, and we're experiencing a once-in-a-generation moment in women’s baskerball, but I don’t believe that to be the case. These players have massive online followings, take full advantage of NIL deals, and most of them play 4 years before going pro. Very excited for the rest of the tournament, I’ll be watching tonight.

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