The WNBA season begins in May 2020 and runs through September. The anticipation is building as the league continues to transform and evolve. The league is excited about the abundance of talent available and new business opportunities. Players feel respected, heard and motivated after reaching an amicable collective bargaining agreement with the league which offers the following:
- Significant increases to player cash compensation and benefits
- Cash Compensation triples to more than half a million dollars for top players
- Enhanced travel standards; expanded career development opportunities; New child care, maternity, and progressive family planning benefits
Prior to the 2019 season, the WNBA announced an overall culture change. The women of the league would be uninhibited, more fierce, forceful and vocal about their ideas and desires and goals for the league.
They were basically shifting the mentality of the entire 144 – woman league. No more settling for second fiddle. They were coming through the front door every day all day.
So with the pay and work condition increases come new programs and events that further the WNBA’s marketing agenda.
This week the WNBA launched ‘WNBA Changemakers’ Partnership Platform to Enhance Player Experience and Drive Business Transformation.
The new eight-year CBA, which commences with the 2020 season and runs through 2027, provides the foundation with the ammunition to chart a new course for women’s professional basketball.
It’s a first-of-its-kind collective that brings together values-driven businesses that lead the way in the advancement of women and sports.
WNBA Changemakers will partner with the WNBA to significantly elevate the player experience and enable the league’s business transformation.
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert highlighted the Changemakers platform:
“… is designed to provide direct support to the WNBA in its ongoing business transformation across marketing, branding, and player and fan experience. With a fresh approach to sports sponsorship, Changemakers are deeply invested in driving positive change for the WNBA, women’s sports, and women in society.”
“Not only are partners providing financial investment, but they are further lifting the league and players through marketing amplification and close strategic collaboration. This group of leaders is redefining what it means to live organizational values through business partnerships,” Engelbert said.
The inaugural WNBA Changemakers will include WNBA partner AT&T, Deloitte, the newest league partner, and the official professional services provider of the WNBA and Nike, the official outfitter of the WNBA.
“Nike is thrilled to be partnering with the WNBA as an inaugural member of the Changemakers program,” said Sonja Henning, Nike Vice President/Global General Manager WNBA & NBA. “We see this program as an opportunity to continue the work we have been doing with the WNBA since its inception and drive new and meaningful change around women’s basketball.”
“We are launching the WNBA Changemakers platform to team up with organizations who have demonstrated unwavering commitment to women’s advancement and are pioneers in inclusive leadership,” said Engelbert. “The support from these WNBA Changemaker companies will allow us to provide an enhanced player experience for the amazing professional athletes in the WNBA.
We tip off our 24th WNBA season in May, and because of the Changemakers support, we will begin to narrow the gap that exists for women’s sports, as only 1% of all global corporate sponsorship dollars are directed toward women’s sports. We look forward to other companies joining our vision to drive change toward a more equitable and inclusive ecosystem.”
COMMISSIONER’S CUP TOURNEY
The new Commissioner’s Cup will consist of designating a portion of regular-season games – 10 games per team – as counting towards Cup play. The team from each conference with the top record in designated “Cup games” will then compete for The Commissioner Cup title and a special prize pool.
More money, more matchups? The @dallaswings have released an extended season schedule reflecting the recently announced league modifications from player benefits to the new Commissioner’s Cup. #WNBA https://t.co/o9umRWdoyv
— Dallas Sports Fanatic (@Dallas_Fanatic) January 17, 2020
“We are incredibly excited to introduce a first-of-its-kind in-season tournament for our league and present more regular-season games on ABC, increasing the WNBA’s national television exposure,” said Engelbert. “The Commissioner’s Cup offers fans another competition through which to support their favorite teams and adds a new dimension to the season for our players and teams.”
Cup games will be the first home game and first road game each team plays against its five conference rivals, all completed from May 15 – July 10 before the WNBA takes a month-long break while many WNBA players participate in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.
The Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game is tentatively scheduled to be played on Friday, Aug. 14, following the Olympic break.
Expanded Regular-Season Schedule
The WNBA’s regular-season schedule has increased to an all-time high 36 games per team, up two games from 34. Each team will play 18 home games and 18 road games.
ESPN Networks’ Coverage
ESPN networks will present 17 regular-season telecasts, including five games on ABC – up from three last season.
Live coverage by ESPN networks tips off on Saturday, May 16 when reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne and the defending champion Washington Mystics host two-time MVP Candace Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks at 4 p.m. ET.
The Mystics and Sparks, along with WNBA all-time leading bucket maker Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury, will appear on ESPN networks five times during the regular season. Former MVP Breanna Stewart and the Seattle Storm will appear four times.
The Connecticut Sun will also appear four times on ESPN networks, beginning with a 2019 WNBA Finals rematch against the Mystics on Sunday, June 28 at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Washington defeated Connecticut in the decisive Game 5 of a thrilling, back and forth, five-game series in the WNBA Finals last season.
The WNBA regular season tips off on Friday, May 15 with three games: the Minnesota Lynx at the Chicago Sky, the Atlanta Dream at the Indiana Fever and the Dallas Wings at the Storm.
The following day, in addition to ESPN’s telecast of Los Angeles at Washington, Connecticut hosts the New York Liberty and Chicago visits Atlanta.
The opening weekend concludes with four games on Sunday, May 17: Los Angeles at New York, Dallas at the Las Vegas Aces, Seattle at Phoenix and Indiana at Minnesota.