WNBA Commissioner Kathy Engelbert delivers the league’s update, from expansion to future development opportunities

UNCASVILLE – There is only one week left in the WNBA regular season before the playoffs begin later this month.

Currently, the Connecticut Sun (22-10) is third after earning its place in the playoffs on July 28 with a win over Seattle. In the lead Chicago (23-8) followed by Las Vegas (22-10). Seattle (20-12) and Washington (20-12) round out the top five teams that have already settled on an extension berth.

WNBA Commissioner Kathy Engelbert spoke to the media this week ahead of the Sun’s 87-63 victory over Phoenix Mercury. She covered many topics, including league expansion, television contracts and potential development opportunities for future players.

Here are the three most important conclusions from Engelbert’s speech:

League expansion means finding the right cities and owners

Engelbert said the university analyzed data from about 100 cities to look at demographics, college and WNBA fandom to find the best possible fit for new teams. She said her goal is to have one or two new teams on board by 2024-25.

“While narrowing it down we are looking for the right ownership groups, and the arena is going to be really important, like the commitment of the ownership group, the diversity of the city for example. When you look at our fan base we tend to be younger, more urban, more female, so you look for a market that supports Really a WNBA team and long-term investments These are the kinds of things we look at and talk about There are quite a few cities that have quite frankly expressed an interest in us, which we love, and then there are cities that we know of course top the list when you get all the combination Demographics and psychographics….the more we talk about it, I think we have more interest and we’re trying to develop the league and one way to grow the league is to have the league in more cities, to be the longest-running professional women’s sports league in the United States and our country in our 26th year.”

Possible development opportunities for players

There are currently 144 potential spots on the list across the twelve WNBA teams. This leaves a lot of talented players without a home and may be given up during training camp or go without an industry. When asked about development opportunities for players unable to make teams, Engelbert said she hopes more teams will be invested in 3×3 basketball.

“I think 3×3 can be really fun. Some of our teams are already sponsoring, especially Seattle and I think Chicago, and others are coming in to sponsor 3×3 teams. I think this could be an interesting place for development opportunities, and then feed the WNBA for players who They don’t make lists.” “I think we think about all of that. I don’t think we’re ready for the big G-league form yet, but yes I think there are a few things we can do to get more development in W. This feeding system is great but for those who aren’t making a list is there a chance for them to play here in United State? Whether it’s the holiday season or even during our season and it’s checked out. …but I think that’s a bit far from widening, but it’s something I definitely think about every draft year when some of our third-round picks don’t make teams, but they’re really good players.”

Television Contracts and Broadcast Model for WNBA Women’s Sports

One of the biggest complaints W fans of the league have is the lack of access to watch matches. The league has partnerships with various platforms, including ESPN, ABC, and Amazon Prime, but this requires fans to constantly jump around the streaming services every time they want to watch a particular game. Engelbert said she hopes to break that model not only for the W, but for all women’s sports as well.

“The big issue with media rights for women’s sports, and especially since I’m focused on the WNBA, is the devaluation of our media rights that’s been going on for far too long. … You look at our WNBA viewers, we compare very well with the NHL, NASCAR, MLS and their pricing. It ranges from five to 15 times our fee, and no matter what package we put together in the future, the rating model for women’s sports should be disabled. … We hope that as we transform the league, the model, where these players are promoted as household names, and if you build it, Something will kind of come in and it will get the proper rating of whether the content is short or long or just a game package.We haven’t gotten there yet because the media companies have to change their rating model.But if we can get rid of it we hope to raise all Women’s sports is on that basis, so that’s my big focus. Other than getting Britney Greiner home as soon as possible, the big business case is trying to disrupt the media rights valuation model on which women’s sports are valued.”

maggie.vanoni@hearstmediact.com