Caitlin Clark should be a huge boost for the WNBA
The WNBA brings in an annual revenue of $60 million compared to an annual revenue of $7.4 billion for the NBA and according to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in 2018, the WNBA loses an average of $10 million per year since its debut in 1997.
I’ve talked a lot about this in private with others and we always agree that the WNBA has not done that great of a job of marketing its product to the public and a big part of that is that they don’t have one big star that they can really promote.
The NBA has LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Ja Morant, and others. The NFL has Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, Lamar Jackson, and others.
While the WNBA certainly has stars, they have not really been marketed well at all and that has definitely hurt the popularity of the sport. Ironically, the MLB has the same problem that the WNBA has in that they have not done a good job of marketing their stars and that is partly why America’s pastime is not as big as it once was as it has been surpassed by the NFL and NBA in terms of popularity.
In Clark, the WNBA will have maybe the most exciting player in all of basketball. She makes the kind of deep threes that are played over and over again and received national praise for 46 points and 10 assists on 48% shooting and 46% 3-point shooting in a 98-90 loss to the Michigan Wolverines on Feb. 6, 2022.
According to the Big Ten Network, women’s basketball ratings are up by 41% in 2022 compared to 2021 and the tournament ratings are up by 76% in 2022 compared to 2017. As for that particular game against Michigan, it was one of the five most-watched games for the Big Ten Network that season.
She also is the first college basketball player ever, either male or female, to have two consecutive 30-point triple-doubles. Highlights of her shooting skills have become highly viewed and shared on Twitter and YouTube as this tweet of her highlights has over 2.6 million views.
As you can see, lots of people are clearly interested in seeing Clark play and make those kinds of plays that seem out of this world. It’s ironic that in one game on Jan. 31, 2022, against the Ohio State Buckeyes, she did the famous Jordan shrug after making a 3-pointer because the WNBA has a potential blueprint for what Clark can do for them in what Michael Jordan did for the NBA.
While Magic Johnson and Larry Bird helped save the NBA from oblivion in the 1980s, it was Jordan that really helped solidify the NBA as here to stay in the 1990s and helped it grow into a global brand. The reason for that is that fans knew that every time they watched him play, they were going to see something truly spectacular and that is why the NBA was able to market him so well.
That’s what makes Caitlin such a big draw for women’s basketball, because every time they watch her play, they expect to see something spectacular. I can already see the league putting Clark in plenty of commercials with brands such as Gatorade, Chevrolet, Kellogg’s, and others. She already has an NIL deal with Nike, so they can push her really hard with her own shoe, clothing line, and much more.
Clark has been one of the most prominent athletes to take advantage of the NCAA’s year-old NIL rule. Not only does she have this deal with Nike, but she also has a deal with a grocery store chain based in Iowa named Hy-Vee where she hosts an online cooking show. She also has a deal with H&R Block where they will give $1 million to women’s collegiate athletics.
So let’s look at how the WNBA can use all of this for its benefit.