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
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.
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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.