WNBA Players' Salary Needs Bounce: Rising TV Brands For The Assist?

Top rookie WNBA players make a base salary of $76,535 a year (according to Sport Trac) with the average player making $102,751 (according to World Sports Network). 

Are these good enough working salaries for a growing professional sports league -- amid now sharply rising TV viewership for women's basketball?

This ball is now bouncing.

The obvious follow-up question is: What about NBA players? They make an average of $9.7 million for the 2023-2024 season, according to several sources.

Perhaps now you know why WNBA-er Britney Griner needed to travel to Russia to play for a basketball league there in the off-season to make a little extra money.

For some, things are changing. The highly celebrated, now all time college basketball points leader, Caitlin Clark -- who just got selected by the Indiana Fever -- will do a bit better.



Reports are that she struck an eight figure sponsorship deal with Nike. Yes, that company, which put Michael Jordan on the map, branding his name to shoes back in the 1980s, Air Jordan, that started a revolution for NBA player basketball shoes.

Clark will get some of this shoe Swoosh-brand action as well.

Why do WNBA players get low comparative salaries? In part, it is about league revenues -- arena ticket sales, sports rights fees, and, of course, national TV advertising. It is far lower than that of the NBA.

Thirty NBA franchises pulled in a collective $10.6 billion in revenue in 2022-2023 with total valuation for the league at $86 billion.

By comparison, the WNBA pulls in a tiny $60 million a year of which $12.3 million is distributed to the players. WSN says Jewell Lloyd is the highest paid player -- $228,094 per year. (In the NBA, that is Stephen Curry, at $48 million).

Arena attendance average shows 5,679 for the WNBA, and 17,184 for the NBA. For its entire season a year ago -- 2023 -- the league took in $19.6 million in national TV advertising sales, according to EDO Ad EnGage.

For sure, WNBA players understand the overall business dynamics at work here -- at least to an extent.

But in a 2022 interview, Las Vegas Aces star Kelsey Plum said it is not about what men are getting paid: “We're asking to get paid the same percentage of revenue shared.”

One hint of better days to come focused on the recent  WNBA draft on ESPN, which exploded in TV interest -- 2.5 million viewers. This was three times higher than its previous high in 2004.

The draft show included Clark, as well as other up-and-coming players from the college ranks -- LSU's Angel Reese, South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso -- who Clark competed against in the NCAA Women’s Tournament

Will marketers -- on and off air -- see the opportunity to ride this real spike in consumers and business attention surely to come?

2 comments about "WNBA Players' Salary Needs Bounce: Rising TV Brands For The Assist?".
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  1. Ben B from Retired, April 19, 2024 at 11:57 p.m.

    I'll be watching the WNBA when Caitlin Clark is on national TV and maybe some that doesn't have Caitlin Clark either but mostly for Caitlin Clark. Caitin Clark was going to make her money with the deals from State Farm, Gatoade, Nik etc.

  2. Ben B from Retired, April 19, 2024 at 11:57 p.m.

    Oops Nike.

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