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WNBA on ESPN
WNBA on ESPN2 logo
Format Basketball
Starring Mike Breen
Doris Burke
Heather Cox
Terry Gannon
Mark Jones
Andrea Joyce
Nancy Lieberman
Rebecca Lobo
Lisa Malosky
Ann Meyers
Dave Pasch
Carolyn Peck
Stephanie Ready
Holly Rowe
Michelle Tafoya
Pam Ward
Bob Wischusen
Country of origin  United States
Production
Running time 120 minutes+ (ESPN)
150 minutes+ (ABC)
Broadcast
Original channel ESPN (1997-present)
ESPN2 (2001 - present)
ABC (2003 - present)
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
720p (HDTV)
Original run 1997 – Present

The WNBA on ESPN refers to the presentation of Women's National Basketball Association games on the ESPN family of networks. Under the title of WNBA Tuesday, games are broadcast throughout the WNBA season on Tuesday nights on ESPN2 and Saturday and Sunday afternoons on ABC.

In June 2007, the WNBA signed a contract extension with ABC. The new television deal runs from 2009 to 2016. A minimum of 18 games will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2 each season; the rights to broadcast the first regular season game and the All-Star game are held by ABC. Additionally, a minimum of 11 postseason games will be broadcast on any of the three stations.[1]

Along with this deal, came the first ever rights fees to be paid to a women's professional sports league. Over the eight years of the contract, "millions and millions of dollars" will be "dispersed to the league's teams."

Beginning with the 2009 WNBA season, all nationally broadcast WNBA games are shown in high definition.

Contents

Announcers

During the 2008 season, WNBA games on ESPN featured broadcasters including Doris Burke, Terry Gannon, Nancy Lieberman, Carolyn Peck, and Pam Ward. Rebecca Lobo and Heather Cox served as sideline reporters.

Previous play-by-play broadcasters have also included Dave Pasch, Mark Jones and Linda Cohn. Previous sideline reporters include Tina Dixon and Stephanie Ready.

The 2009 season featured Terry Gannon, Nancy Lieberman, Rebecca Lobo, Dave Pasch, Carolyn Peck and Pam Ward as broadcasters while Heather Cox served as a sideline reporter.

Wired

One unique aspect of WNBA coverage on the ESPN family of networks is that many of the participants wear live microphones[2]. Starting with the 2003 WNBA All Star Game (which aired on ABC), most games televised have involved coaches, players and referees being wired for sound. On some occasions, the sound of players and coaches talking will overlap with commentary; also, on several occasions, ESPN has had to mute the sound because of expletives.

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Controversy

During the 2006 WNBA Finals, Detroit Shock head coach, and former ESPN NBA analyst, Bill Laimbeer became irritated[3] by ESPN's coverage, quoted by the Detroit Free Press as saying:

I just hear from our family and friends back home that, 'Boy, ESPN is killing you guys,' ... 'And (Nancy) Lieberman and Doris Burke are just trashing you left and right.' Not only me, but also some of our players on our ballclub. ... We're telling ESPN today to basically stick it.

Laimbeer banned ESPN from the Shock locker room for Game 4 of the series, and also refused to wear a live microphone for that game (as had been the custom throughout the regular season and the playoffs).

Connecticut Sun head coach Mike Thibault admitted that he does not like having a microphone on during games. He also said that he sometimes finds himself turning the microphone off.

Viewership

Saturday and Sunday afternoon games are broadcast on ABC. Tuesday night games are broadcast on ESPN2. On opening day (May 17, 2008), ABC broadcast the Los Angeles Sparks and Phoenix Mercury matchup. The game received a little over 1 million viewers. Average viewership for games broadcast on national television (ABC and ESPN2) was 413,000 (up from 346,000 in 2007).

In 2008, the WNBA finished up in key demographics on ESPN2—Women 18-34 (+71%) and Men 18-34 (+28%) – and on ABC—All Women (+10%) and Women 18-34 (+20%).[4]

Ratings remain poor in comparison to NBA games. WNBA games averaged just 413,000 viewers, compared to 1.46 million viewers for NBA games.[5] However, the WNBA gets more viewers on national television broadcasts than both Major League Soccer (253,000) [6] and the NHL (310,732).[7]

The 2009 regular season on ESPN2 (13 telecasts) concluded with an average of 269,000 viewers, up 8% vs. 2008 season (248,000 viewers). In addition, regular-season games on ESPN2 saw increases in key demographics, including men 18-34 (+9%), men 18-49 (+14%) and men 23-54 (+23%).

References

Links

Preceded by
NBC
WNBA network broadcast partner
2002 - present
Succeeded by
Incumbent

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