On the heels of the 40th Anniversary of Title IX and USA Basketball’s London Olympics gold medal performance, WNBA President, Laurel J. Richie, is capitalizing on women’s sports’ momentum by writing the WNBA’s next chapter.
The new agreement expands the WNBA’spartnership with ESPN to 26 years, which dates back to the inaugural season in 1997. The network also announced up to 30 games will air yearly on ESPN Networks, including ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and WatchESPN.
“We think this is a propitious time to do this deal, and we are pleased with where the league is after 16 years,” said Skipper. “We think there is going to be continued development, and we want to be active participants in that development.”
While the financial terms of the deal were not revealed, the WNBA and ESPN agree that the partnership is a seminal business moment for women’s sports.
“We are putting a financial commitment of our time, commitment of our executives, and commitment of our company to continue to help grow women’s sports,” Skipper said. “We are thrilled with where the league is right now and how it is doing. I see appropriate ratings, and I see growth.”
During the conversation moderated by ESPN Anchor, Hannah Storm, the WNBA and ESPN revealed that the historic announcement emanated from discussions during ESPNW’s annual summit where both partners examined what they could do to push the league forward from a practical business standpoint.
“The ESPNW Summit was a groundbreaking day for us,” said Richie. “From the WNBA perspective, we left the summit and set on a course of reimaging the WNBA.”
Here are highlights of the rebranded WNBA:
The WNBA unveiled a new brand identity, which includes a new logo that capitalizes on the signature orange-and-oatmeal color scheme of the game ball. The league recognized that the original logo and did not reflect the diversity, athleticism, and the competitive nature of the current game. The cornerstone of the new WNBA visual identity is a more modern “Logowoman” – the silhouette within the logo.
The WNBA and adidas will introduce new uniforms for the 2014 season. Currently in development, the uniforms will reflect the diversity and athleticism of today’s high performing women’s basketball players.
Under the expanded agreement, ESPN and the WNBA are exploring a host of enhancements, all designed to give fans greater access and new perspectives on the game. The enhancements include special mini-cameras worn by referees during select games giving fans an officials’ take on the action; behind-the-scenes coverage of practices, shoot arounds, and locker rooms; and current and former NBA players serving as commentators and offering a player’s perspective of the women’s game.
Needless to say, it has been a busy and productive offseason for ESPN and the WNBA. Heading towards 2022, the partners visualize the league’s continued growth and success in the areas of attendance, television ratings, and commitment of sponsors. Together, they foresee an environment where women’s sports are dramatically more important in the sports landscape than they are today.
Click here for more information about the WNBA and ESPN partnership.