Despite a complete explosion in popularity, the WNBA still can't seem to make any money.

The arrival of brand-new stars like Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, and Cameron Brink has helped fill WNBA arenas to 94% capacity, which is up 17% from last year, according to Pro Sports Media. There have been approximately 400,000 fans in attendance, more than half the WNBA games have been sellouts, and games on national TV are averaging 1.32 million viewers, which has almost tripled the average last season.

When Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever took on the Los Angeles Sparks in May, the game averaged 724,000 viewers which made it the most-viewed WNBA game of all time.

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The general rule of thumb in business is when you have more eyeballs on your product, you tend to make more money. As of right now, that is not the case with the WNBA.

Indiana Fever v Washington Mystics
Getty Images

$50 Million in Losses

According to the Independent, the WNBA is hemorrhaging money, with losses expected to rise to $50 million this year. In basic terms, the WNBA is losing significant sums of money or "bleeding money."

Even though Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, and Sue Bird have earned individual sponsorships, the WNBA as a whole can't seem to catch up. With the success the league has seen this year, that could potentially change in 2025.

The WNBA is owned by the NBA and was reportedly valued somewhere around $60 million last season. After this year, that number will likely go up and a deal for next season's broadcast rights is currently under negotiation.

With the broadcast rights being sold by the NBA, the WNBA could potentially triple its revenue, valuing the WNBA closer to $180 million and $200 million.

The sad fact of the matter is that right now, the WNBA probably doesn't exist without the NBA. The WNBA's total worth is basically decided by whatever the NBA says it's worth.

Laura Gentile is an industry consultant and she said women's sports want accountability, according to the Independent.

"If you’re not getting a number from the media companies, then you are hanging on to the NBA. You’re saying it’s a rounding error in the grand scheme of business. Maybe that’s the case, but it doesn’t help the ecosystem grow. Women’s sports want accountability; they want their growth projections to matter."

David Samson is the former president of the MLB Miami Marlins team and he also added

"Even if the money is less, I would rather have independent money, because then you have a real business. If a media company says we value the WNBA at X, that’s a real value of what the WNBA’s rights are. Otherwise, it’s like buying social media followers: perceived value but not real. "

By this time next season, hopefully, the WNBA will continue to grow and we can continue seeing more fans enjoy women's basketball. We've grown pretty accustomed to watching some amazing women's basketball in Iowa. The rest of the country is still trying to catch up.

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