At a time when many sports fans are flocking to streaming services, the WNBA is ramping up its cable television presence through a new deal with CBS Sports.
The league has announced a multiyear deal with the network that will see CBS broadcast 40 games this season, all during primetime and on weekends. The Minnesota Lynx v. Chicago Sky game on May 25 will be the first to air on the network. A WNBA Finals rematch between 2018 Champions Seattle Storm and the Washington Mystics is slated for Jun. 14.
The 40 CBS games will be in addition to the 16 regular-season games ESPN will air, including three on ABC. ESPN expanded its partnership with the WNBA a few months ago, upping its regular-season exposure by nearly 25 percent. Last year, the league had telecasts across ESPN (13 regular-season contests) and NBA TV (53 regular-season games). The NBA TV schedule has not been finalized yet for the 2019 season, though a WNBA spokesperson said the additional games on CBS and ESPN will “have an effect on the number games” that appear on NBA TV this year. That schedule is expected to be decided in a few weeks.
WNBA and @CBSSports announce multi-year television partnership!
Full release: https://t.co/1vT27kwzPr pic.twitter.com/oqkKdSL4Wf
— WNBA (@WNBA) April 22, 2019
“Through our partnership with CBS Sports Network, the WNBA is joining an elite lineup of premium sports programming,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in a statement.
CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said the partnership is one of the “biggest and most impactful women’s sports programming arrangements ever at CBS Sports.”
“This agreement provides great live content throughout the summer in primetime and on weekends, and aligns two great brands in the WNBA and CBS Sports,” he said.
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The news follows a strong season for ratings that saw combined average viewership on ESPN2 and NBA TV climb 31 percent. The league has had an active offseason. Earlier this month, it announced a major sponsorship deal with AT&T that led to a new league logo and jerseys.
The WNBA didn’t detail how these additional telecasts will impact its streaming deals. During the 2018 season, all ESPN telecasts also streamed live on the ESPN app, while Twitter live streamed 20 games as part of a multiyear deal to broadcast 20 regular-season games per year through the 2019 season. CBS also has its own streaming platform, having launched CBS Sports HQ as a free OTT service in 2018.