ESPN Signs Six-Year Extension With WNBA That Is Worth $12M Per Year
The WNBA has signed a six-year extension with ESPN that is separate from the network's NBA deal. Sources said the deal is worth $12M per year, which amounts to about $1M per WNBA team, and runs through the '22 season. An official announcement is planned later this afternoon, coinciding with a relaunch of the WNBA brand. The 16-year-old league is taking the wraps off a new logo, designed in conjunction with the firm OCD (Original Champions of Design) to reflect "the diversity and athleticism of today's WNBA," according to WNBA President Laurel Richie. Looking to add to its WNBA revenues, the NBA decided to open the WNBA part of its package with ESPN early. The new deal will set up a Memorial Day double-header on ESPN2 that will be the WNBA's version of the NBA's Christmas Day games, and will increase the number of WNBA games on ESPN to 30 from 28. Those games will include the teams with the top four draft picks, so ESPN will be able to highlight the three top picks that it has showcased in its "Three to See" campaign all season: Elena Delle Donne (Delaware), Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame), and Brittney Griner (Baylor). "Having a better sense of the athletes and getting to know the athletes is a really important part of building allegiance to a player, a team or a league," Richie said. "So in this extended partnership, we're excited about looking for ways to do that." Like other media rights deals, ESPN picked up TV Everywhere rights that allow it to show WNBA games on ESPN3 and its WatchESPN app. ESPN's current rights deal with the NBA, which was signed in '07 and runs through the '15-16 season, included WNBA rights. ESPN's deal with the NBA is not affected by this deal. ESPN has carried WNBA games dating back to the league's inaugural season in '97.