If you were to scroll through all your sports channels, you'd be hard pressed to find a WNBA game, or any other women's sport for that matter. You will hear no news about Swin Cash reuniting with Bill Laimbeer in New York If you happen to attend a WNBA game, you might get to see the lower bowl filled, but it is almost definite the nose bleeds will be vacant. Here in San Antonio, I notice a constant struggle to get fans to the Stars' games. Marketers use ploys like "$11 lower level seats" or "bring your dog to the game" in an almost desperate attempt to get locals out to the AT&T Center to watch Becky Hammon and company play. There is no doubt that American sports has a gender divide when it comes to popularity, but my question is, is it due to a lack of interest on the fans' part? Or is it a media driven divide siding with male sports and promoting them over the latter?
In the 2013-2014 NBA season, there were 142 nationally televised games. Contrast that with the 35 WNBA games played on national TV (5 on ESPN2 the rest on NBATV) and its easy to see the media is heavily skewed towards the NBA. Is this on the networks for simply not promoting the WNBA as much as the NBA or do fans simply just not enjoy watching women's basketball? In an earlier post , I touched on why networks like ESPN put out the information they do, and its mostly due to what fans will watch. Still, a WNBA playoff game has to be more entertaining and draw higher numbers than a two hour skid of Sports Center re-runs, right? The 2013 WNBA season kicked off last year with a double header on ESPN2, bringing in a .3 household rating (366,000 viewers).Subsequently, Sportscenter averages roughly 650,000 viewers a night. How is it that a live porfessional sport on "the Worldwide Leader in Sports" can have less viewers than a nightly highlight show featuring two talking suits with a handful of corny one liners?
It comes down to a combination of lack of interest from the fans, lack of marketing dollars from networks and the NBA, and blatant misinformation about women's sports that is thrown at us every day. If I'm wrong and people honestly prefer men's sports over women's, then why does Women's Olympic gymnastics smoke the Men's team in ratings every four years?