Why Women’s Sports Are Struggling in Ratings

Posted: March 31, 2011 in Opinions

Jokes like the one above certainly don't help the cause of women's leagues like the WNBA (Maxim).

All-time low ratings after this year’s last WNBA season reflect the national interest in women’s professional basketball – none.

The WNBA has been at the butt of jokes for years as being just a promotional tool by the NBA to attract a female audience to basketball.

The fact of the matter is that leagues cannot force product onto an audience that quite frankly does not care for it. Women’s basketball has never been a popular sport for fans to admire, and now it not going to change that.

When it comes to sports, the demographic will always be males. Not even women are interested in women’s sports. And unless there is some sort of sex appeal, men do not give a damn. Call it sexist, but you can’t argue with fact.

Women’s sports are more internationally-based. Consider the more “classy” sports, such as ice skating, tennis, and golf. Softball and soccer have become more popular in the last decade. Women’s college basketball has sky rocketed over the last few years thanks to the tournament being on ESPN.

However, the current attractions all include sexual aspects: gymnastics and volleyball. Tight leotards, bikinis, and spandex shorts are the real reasons a majority of men view at all.

The WNBA is the main perpetrator to this unscientific man law. The league’s numbers as of late have been pathetic. Since the WNBA was created in 1996, the regular season’s viewership is down 65% while the playoff ratings are nearly half of what they initially were.

“As a woman who once played basketball in high school, it is sad that professional women’s basketball has never really taken off,” said sophomore Erin Cox. “The argument that men are simply not interested because of the lack of eye candy may be true, which just goes to show that sex sells. Without capturing the male audience, no sport can survive.”

The WNBA only has 4 original teams from the 1997 season still in existence – the Los Angeles Sparks, New York Liberty, Phoenix, and San Antonio Silver Stars. Six franchises folded while three others had to relocate due to low attendance and loss of revenue.

Fan attendance has declined steadily over the last few seasons. Just from 2009 to 2010, the WNBA suffered a 10% decline in attendance with 178,000 fewer tickets purchased.

The future of women’s professional basketball is certainly debatable. The league will need a serious boost in order to stay afloat, or risk folding into history.

  1. Chris Ross says:

    Honestly, I think you also have to take into account how weak the product actually is. Women’s basketball is in no way comparable men’s and most women’s sports are. Also, for a sport like tennis I don’t think it’s necessarily the short skirts, Maria Sharapova’s etc. that are doing it. The product that they put out there is high quality and exciting to watch. Not as good as men’s but it is good stuff. It doesn’t look slow like women’s hockey and basketball.

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