WNBA commentary

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WNBA commentary

Post by Crow » Fri Nov 02, 2018 4:01 pm

I've previously (maybe here or on twitter) commented on changes that could be considered to try to improve interest in the WNBA including:

shift to traditional season timing
global league
4 on 4 (focus on the best, known players)
maybe slightly bigger and / or lower basket (not meant as a handicap, just makes for more scoring, interest. I'd do it in my gym if I could. they already changed the ball)
shorter court (for faster play)
3 points for dunks

Beyond these changes, it does seem that there needs to be some changes in strategic business thinking. The new President probably ought to have media company & venture capital / start-up company experience. Or have that experience immediately & deeply at hand in the league office. In a quick check of the wikipedia pages on ALL the past WNBA commissioners I saw none of this experience for any of them.

Someone with experience in the world of soccer might be helpful with regard to creating multiple special events, building fan bases, etc.

Attendance has not worked that well as the #1 priority. The game is mainly consumed via media, too limited media. A primary strategy I would try would be to emphasis media products beyond the single, live, whole game product. Having a studio show with live guests (including NBA players, current & legends, as well as celebrities / prominent leaders) and taped & live look ins from around the league would seem desirable. Perhaps as the primary media platform. If you want more than the modest number of diehard fans, give them a media product that is more jammed packed with the best highlights, stars, personalities, bios, lifestyle & business tie ins. If you developed 2-3 nights of that per week I'd think you'd have more views, more revenue opportunities. I guess there is a pre-game show that can do some of that that but it is probably too tight to do the broader survey & riffing I am suggesting.

I see some YouTube game and player highlight reels but I guess they aren't getting much promotion. The view counts are very low. Other media companies effectively grow products thru adjacency. If NBA really wanted to boost the WNBA, I'd think they'd try to be adjacent. Play same city match-ups night before, after or even a full weekend doubleheaders. Cross viewing of highlights, etc.

The WNBA should do more with its current stars and past star archives. You could edit 30 for 30 like documentaries and if done right get more viewers than live games and run these repetitively like many other TV properties. And shows about developing / making it. The future stars.

Even if they don't go global or expand here, they could take some games on the road. There may be good fan bases but to expand viewership it may make sense to take the game to more cities to increase exposure to try to get better media interest & deals and for merchandising, which probably should be a main focus. Not sure how big it is but if the league is going to be profitable it is probably got to be bigger.

Potential for the brand seems high in abstract. But doing it basically the same way as it has been done, seems like the worst possible choice.

Some recent comparisons have been made with G league. Potentially WNBA and G league products could share infrastructure / some staff and cross promote, especially if G league increases focus on 18-23 year olds (or even included select 16-17 year olds). Even more radical would be to drop 16-18 year old select G leaguers (under 200 pounds) into select WNBA games ( or special tournaments) or just go for it big. Want more attention? Create an attention grabbing story. Even if it is a one year gimmick.

I imagine some of this already happens to some degree but WNBA may need to give more emphasis to player / employees who want to be can credibly be entertainers beyond being ball players. I'd think you could push to get WNBA star players into half the ads for game and studio shows. Make that a key strategy to raise pay. Companies that want the association with the product could probably be pushed to do more than are doing. They got to pay somebody to do that acting / promoting, so why not?

More WNBA players as assistant NBA coaches seems like a good idea on severs levels. I'd try to give them media visibility beyond the occasional profile article. Have them very involved in NBA media- pre-game, during game comments, even full color commentary for select games, post game, off the court stuff. If Becky Hammon and Sue Bird, etc. are as good or better than the current, let's hear / see it 100 plus times in a season instead of reading about it maybe twice.

If the WNBA doesn't want to change dramatically, I'd suggest the players go another direction. Hopefully with more savvy partners, more willing to invest in the brand for long-term returns via more creative products / diverse streams.

If NBA, WNBA and players all stay too conservative and conventional, maybe the BIg 3 should add a female player to games. Mixed league could get ratings, increase casual fan attention.

This thread can be used for whatever WNBA interests, if you want. Or start your own specific thread.

Posts: 6250
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:10 pm

Re: WNBA commentary

Post by Crow » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:59 am

Fwiw, the WNBA plays at about a 7% slower pace than NBA and is about 4% less efficient at scoring. If you like what the NBA has done this season with speed & flow, then efforts to make similar changes in the WNBA could be considered. Not everyone would want that, for itself and for its origin, but I'd suggest at least looking at it. I'd probably do it.

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Re: WNBA commentary

Post by Crow » Mon Jan 07, 2019 2:42 am

I don't hear radical change proposals from anybody else. Ok, more of about the same then, probably. Or fortunes change finally after all this time without major system change? I doubt fortunes changes radically without radical system change.

Here is an even more radical change proposal then I've made before:

WNBA plays 2/3rds to all games the same night as their local NBA team. 3 periods of 10 minutes each all before NBA warmups begin OR 12, 12 and 6 minutes with first two before NBA warmups begin and final period at NBA half time. (with half time extended by 5 - 10 minutes to accommodate. no more crappy half-time entertainment activities.)

With 4 on 4 and more rest, you cut the rosters to 8 or 9. Maybe go from 12 to 10 teams.

WNBA games integrated into local and national TV coverage. Initially as highlights of first 2 periods and the final period live. Revenue from additional ad spots in front of far more viewers go to increase athlete pay as does the money saved from reducing roster size.

WNBA / NBA doubleheaders mainly or exclusively on weekends. Roughly same season length but could increase or decrease a bit to 30-40 games as warranted in the experiment.

High grading to best 60% of players improves quality of play even more than it already has.

Visibility to NBA viewers increases player promotion / outside pay opportunities. Could even have rotating WNBA players doing 4th quarter color commentary spots for the NBA game after brief reflections on their just completed game.

Try it one season and then evaluate.

If this fails, you can go back to what you were doing or something something else. If it succeeds, you can keep doing it or decouple the league play after raising interest & , if you think you can sustain it after the boost.

If you don't want to try all of this, you could try some. But I'd suggest trying the full radical change over just a few tweaks. Minor tweaks haven't made meaningful difference before.

Could also re-direct x% of NBA luxury tax payments to enhance WNBA salaries (1-2%? more? anything would help.)

The league linkage could increase viewership in both leagues. If WNBA viewers stick around for the NBA play that could give the NBA more money and more money to share.

The NBA appears to really want to appeal to more female fans. It this is a major goal, what could do more to advance that than this?

Ticket prices for the double header would probably be higher with the goal being to generate extra game revenue equal to WNBA game revenues. The ownership groups could remain separate until at least the experiments has run a year or two. The doubleheaders might sellout vacant seats.

70% of NBA would be solo / normal. More if the whole WNBA is not done as doubleheaders. Playoffs would be separate. Possibly the WNBA playoffs would be in February to stagger with NBA and NCAA. If so, maybe some of the doubleheaders would be in NBA pre-season or as double road WNBA games in cities without their own WNBA time (added nations exposure outside current cities would probably be useful for building national audience. I'd think.)

If done by Feb., maybe star players could still get signed abroad for their second salary. I'd expect they'd still be wanted. Or add more solo games in US to compensate.

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