How Does the WNBA Make Money? Best Players, Salaries, Revenue, Attendance

How Does the WNBA Make Money

How does the WNBA make money? Not worry much we will get to know in a jiffy.

The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) has emerged as a powerhouse in women’s sports, captivating audiences and creating a unique space for female athletes.

In this article, we delve into the intricate web of revenue streams that sustains the WNBA and explore the various facets of player compensation, shedding light on the league’s financial dynamics.

Women’s basketball made the announcement “We Got Next” on April 24, 1996, following the NBA Board of Governors’ approval of the idea to create a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), which would start play in June 1997.

The WNBA has evolved into a beacon of women’s empowerment in sports.

With a growing fanbase and increasing global recognition, the league’s financial success is a testament to its significance in the sports industry.

What is the WNBA?

The WNBA, or Women’s National Basketball Association, is the premier professional women’s basketball league in the United States. Formed in 1997, it serves as the female counterpart to the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Here’s a breakdown of the WNBA:


  • 12 Teams: The league comprises 12 teams spread across the United States, divided into Eastern and Western Conferences.
  • Regular Season and Playoffs: Each team plays a 36-game regular season, followed by a playoff tournament culminating in the WNBA Finals, where the champion team is crowned.
  • Highly skilled players: The WNBA attracts some of the best female basketball players from around the world, showcasing top talent and exciting gameplay.

Financial Landscape:

  • Challenges: While strides have been made, the WNBA generates significantly less revenue compared to the NBA. This limits player salaries and overall financial opportunities.
  • Revenue Streams: Ticket sales, broadcasting rights, sponsorships, merchandise sales, and league/team-level agreements contribute to the league’s income.
  • Player Salaries: Average salaries are increasing (around $130,000 in 2023), but still lag behind the NBA due to revenue disparity.

Impact and Importance:

  • Promoting Women’s Basketball: The WNBA provides a platform for showcasing the talent and athleticism of female basketball players, inspiring young girls, and fostering their interest in the sport.
  • Breaking Barriers: The league champions gender equality in sports, paving the way for professional opportunities for women athletes.
  • Economic Impact: The WNBA generates jobs, supports local communities, and contributes to the broader sports industry.

Also read: Is the WNBA A Profitable League in 2023? Does the WNBA Make A Profit?

How Does the WNBA Make Money?

How Does the WNBA Make Money

The WNBA’s financial landscape is complex, involving several key revenue streams and ongoing efforts to increase overall income.

Here’s a breakdown of how they make money:

Revenue Streams

  • Ticket Sales: While attendance lags behind the NBA, ticket sales still contribute significantly, with an average attendance of 6,535 in 2023.
  • Broadcasting Rights: Partnerships with networks like ESPN and CBS Sports bring in revenue, but currently pale in comparison to the NBA’s deals.
  • Sponsorships: Companies like AT&T, Nike, and Deloitte invest in the league through sponsorships, providing essential income.
  • Merchandise Sales: Fans show their support by purchasing jerseys, hats, and other WNBA-branded merchandise.
  • League and Team-Level Agreements: Partnerships with entities like Nike and Gatorade bring in additional revenue.

Distribution of Revenue

  • Player Salaries: A portion of league revenue is allocated to player salaries through collective bargaining agreements. In 2023, the average salary was $130,000, with top players earning up to $500,000.
  • League Operations: The remaining revenue covers operational costs, marketing, infrastructure, and other expenses.

Challenges and Opportunities

  • Lower Revenue Compared to NBA: The WNBA generates significantly less revenue than the NBA. This restricts salary distribution and overall financial opportunities.
  • Growing Popularity: While attendance and viewership are steadily increasing, they still lag behind the NBA. Building a larger fanbase is crucial for future growth.
  • Investment and Partnerships: Increased corporate investment and strategic partnerships can boost revenue and player salaries.

Future of WNBA

Despite the challenges, the WNBA is making strides toward financial sustainability. Initiatives include:

  • Increased Marketing and Engagement: Attracting new fans through targeted campaigns and community outreach programs.
  • Media Expansion: Negotiating lucrative new broadcasting deals to widen reach and exposure.
  • Strategic Partnerships: Securing larger and more diverse sponsorships to increase revenue streams.
  • Player Development and Support: Creating programs that enhance player marketability and attract wider sponsorship opportunities.

While the road to financial parity with the NBA remains long, the WNBA’s ongoing efforts and increasing popularity paint a promising picture for the future of women’s basketball.

NBA vs WNBA: Revenue

$10 billion$60 million
Average Salaries
$9.6 million$102,751
Ticket Price
$94 USD$47 USD
Highest-Paid Player
Stephen Curry $48 millionJewell Loyd $228,094
Average Viewership
2022 NBA Finals 12.4 millionIn 2022: 412,000 viewers
Average Attendance
2022 NBA Finals had an 7.6 rating reaching 12.4 millionHighest viewed game – Aces vs. Storm averaged 852,000 viewers, peaking at 1.1 million.

Also read: Highest Paid WNBA Player in 2023 | Which Players Make the Most Money

NBA vs WNBA: Salaries

NBA players make an average of $9.6 million a year.

In the 2022–2023 NBA season, Stephen Curry will be the highest-paid player. He is guaranteed to make about $48 million.

The NBA minimum pay is based on the number of years of experience you have there. Starting with little experience and going up to over ten years, the minimum contract amount might range from $838,464 to $2.4 million.

The WNBA pays a far different price than the NBA.

As of 2020, a WNBA player’s maximum salary is $215,000. The starting compensation for a rookie is the same as the minimum salary for WNBA players, which is $72,141.

Jewell Loyd made $228,094, even though the maximum is $215,000.

The revenue share between the WNBA and the league, which pays the players about 20% of WNBA earnings, contributes to the disparities in WNBA salaries. Because of this, a large number of the best players in the WNBA work abroad during the offseason, typically with greater financial success.

For instance, during the WNBA offseason, Brittney Griner played in China for the Zhejiang Golden Bulls and UMMC Ekaterinburg.


So, when next you want to ask how the WNBA makes money, this analysis must have done justice to that question.

Basketball players are among the most well-known people in the world because of their media personas, their presence on the floor, and the lack of prominent advertising and equipment that obscures their appearance.

Future expansion for the WNBA and the NBA appears inevitable.

Basketball is one of the most popular youth sports since it’s organized, safe, and can be played with or without equipment in any kind of weather.

Future WNBA growth will be greatly influenced by how the WNBPA handles its CBA.


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