NEW YORK (AP) — The WNBA draft drew its second-highest television audience.
The draft, held virtually last Friday because of the coronavirus, averaged 387,000 viewers on ESPN, up 123% from last year’s draft. It was also up 33% from the last time it aired on the network in 2011.
Only the 2004 draft had more viewers.
“This year’s WNBA draft was truly a collaborative effort between the league and ESPN, under an unprecedented set of circumstances, to ensure that the top athletes in women’s college basketball were given the platform they deserve,” said Carol Stiff, ESPN vice president of programming and acquisitions. “The viewership success—the most watched WNBA Draft since 2004 and an audience increase of 123% over last year’s telecast—is indicative of the continued growth of interest in and support of women’s basketball. We are dedicated to working alongside the WNBA to continue this momentum moving forward.”
Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu was the first pick in a draft that made a huge impact across WNBA and NBA social media handles, generating 6.5 million views — up 165% from last year — and 1.3 million minutes watched. That was up 237% from last year.
In addition, the WNBA Instagram handle had its highest year-over-year growth, generating more than 3.8 million video views on draft day.