As the Las Vegas Aces nudged past the New York Liberty to capture their second consecutive Women’s National Basketball Association title, basketball fans across the nation set a milestone of their own. A peak of 1.3 million viewers tuned in for the decisive Game Four of the thrilling championship series, capping off the most-watched WNBA Finals in 20 years.
And it’s not just the WNBA’s ratings that are on the rise — the league is also becoming a better bet for advertisers looking to generate consumer engagement. Viewers were 30% more likely to engage online with the brands advertised during the 2023 WNBA Finals as compared to last year's WNBA Finals, and 10% more likely in ‘22 over ‘21. That’s 33% growth in per-person, per-second engagement over just two years, all while the league’s audience continues to rise.
Using our extensive TV airings data and best-in-class predictive modeling, we took a deeper look at the WNBA’s recent improvement in advertiser effectiveness and the public’s growing appetite for women’s sports.
WNBA advertisers score big — even among men’s brands
The WNBA posted impressive growth in ad effectiveness this year — across the regular season, the first two rounds of this year’s playoffs, and the aforementioned WNBA Finals.
Consumers who saw ads during this year’s regular season were 7% more likely to engage online with the brands advertised than they were in 2022 — an increase that came after a staggering 42% year-over-year increase the season prior. Meanwhile, fans who tuned into the first two rounds of this year’s playoffs were a staggering 101% more likely to engage with the brands advertised than just two years ago.
What’s particularly interesting is that this advertising success was shared by brands that cater primarily to men. Male-skewing brands such as Bosley Hair Restoration (24 airings), Old Spice (47 airings), and Hims (60 airings) all performed well in comparison to other WNBA advertisers this season. Ads from these brands outperformed the average brand performance during the WNBA this season by +341%, +134%, and +51%, respectively.
Women’s sports are taking off, and advertisers are growing their investment
Growing fan interest in the WNBA Finals mirrors an overall trend playing out across the women’s sports landscape.
This year’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Final doubled its audience from the year before with nearly 10 million viewers. The contest was the most-watched women’s basketball game ever, and viewers were 20% more likely to engage with the brands advertised than the prior year’s audience.
Results-driven advertisers are already taking advantage of this growing opportunity. In the countdown to the 2024 Olympics, ad sales for women’s sports events already make up more than 50% of ad spend. According to EDO data, the women’s basketball gold-medal game was the most effective broadcast of the 2020 Summer Olympics for advertisers, followed by a primetime broadcast headlined by gymnast Simone Biles’ return to competition in the balance beam final.
Follow all the latest women’s sports trends with EDO’s outcome-based insights
With the 2024 Summer Olympics just around the corner, the advertising world will be taking a long look at high-engagement women’s sports events like gymnastics, basketball, and beach volleyball.
And EDO will be there every step of the way — charting the hottest trends, measuring top advertisers, and providing the real-time outcomes insights advertisers need to know what really works. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date with the latest women’s sports trends and all things Paris 2024.