You can’t get better than this in sports. The two best teams in the league are fighting it out to win the championship AND record-setting ratings.
According to Rookie Wire, the WNBA Finals basketball game between the New York Liberty and the Las Vegas Aces was the most-viewed WNBA Finals Game 1 ever on an ESPN network. The Aces pulled out a victory with a 99-82 score over the New York team.
ESPN has reported that the matchup, pitting the two teams with the best records in the WNBA, had an average viewership of 729,000 while spiking at 885,000 people watching the contest. The game was played at Las Vegas’ Michelob ULTRA Arena on Oct. 8. The next will be played on Oct. 11 at the same arena.
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) October 10, 2023
ESPN and its networks have broadcasted 83 WNBA Finals games since 1998.
The network also reported that the countdown aired before the game was the highest thus far. That program had an average of 371,000 viewers since the show was introduced in 2022.
Sports Media Watch reported that the contest averaged a 0.45 rating on ABC. The average viewership of 729,000 was the largest on an ESPN network, but the highest viewed WNBA Finals Game 1 took place in 2000, when the New York Liberty took on the Houston Comets. That game, which aired on the Lifetime Network, averaged 872,000. The previous high (on an ESPN network) before Game 1 was back in 2016, when the Los Angeles Sparks played the Minnesota Lynx and the average viewership was 594,000.
This year’s Game 1 surpassed last year’s numbers with an increase of 41% in ratings and 31% in viewership. The average viewership was 555,000 in 2022, when the Aces beat the Connecticut Sun.
The Aces’ Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young each scored 26 points, which were personal playoff highs for the two. Breanna Stewart scored a team-high 21 points for the Liberty, while Jonquel Jones put up 16 points.
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