Funding Women's Sports

NYT Dealbook by Sorkin


It also highlighted a hard truth that largely goes unspoken about the W.N.B.A. and many women’s sports leagues: They aren’t profitable.

The simplest reason the W.N.B.A. isn’t paying Clark more is that the league brings in just $200 million annually and relies on the N.B.A. for some of its funding. The N.B.A., by contrast, brings in about $10 billion.

When the N.B.A. and its commissioner at the time, David Stern, founded the W.N.B.A. in 1996, return on their investment wasn’t their immediate focus. As Stern later recounted, he wanted “to develop new fans, more programming, have arena content outside the N.B.A. season, give more girls an incentive to play basketball.”

And, he added, “we knew it was going to be a long haul.”

My comment there is a problem. Many men will watch an entire weekend of sports. Women generally will not. Men will tune into the scores. Women who tune in may have for years tuned into men’s sports.

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