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ESPN and Warner: Invest in women's basketball

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    ESPN and Warner: Invest in women's basketball

    Our petition to ESPN, Warner, and other sports media companies reads:

    Invest in women's basketball. Pay the WNBA what it'’s worth for broadcast rights, not just for today but for future generations.

    Why is this important?

    When 3-point superstar Steph Curry was drafted into the NBA in 2008, he made $2.7 million in his first year.

    Caitlin Clark broke Curry's 3-point record in college, as well as more than two dozen other records--but she'll earn just $76,000 when she's drafted into the WNBA this year.

    There has never been more attention and excitement around women's basketball than there is right now. This year, the NCAA championship game was viewed by more than 18 million people--6 million more than watched the men's championship game. Ticket sales to WNBA games--especially for the team presumed to be drafting Clark--have spiked. But WNBA players are still woefully underpaid.

    Today, the top players from the NCAA are entering the WNBA. The first step to improving salaries for WNBA players is to make sure the league itself is funded, but current media deals that help pay those salaries are worth a fraction of those for the NBA. If we're going to ensure that the momentum keeps going for women's basketball, we need to pressure the sports media to pay the WNBA what it's worth.

    This is the moment. The WNBA is currently in talks with ESPN and Warner about media rights deals for 2025 and beyond--and we need to send those companies the message that it's time to invest in the future of women's basketball.

    Viewership of women's sports is on the rise, and women's basketball in particular is charting new territory. But while Clark is having a massive impact on ticket sales and TV schedules, the max salary in the WNBA is currently around $200,000--but the top NBA salary is over 50 million dollars.

    If we want little girls playing sports to grow up thinking they can make a future for themselves without being held back by sexism, we need to show that women athletes are paid what they're worth. And in order for the WNBA to massively increase player salaries, sports media needs to invest in the league now. Surveys show that fans want broadcasters to take charge of promoting women's sports. It's time for ESPN and Warner to do just that and invest in the WNBA.

    The WNBA's current domestic broadcast deals are worth 60 million dollars a year, and the WNBA's commissioner is hoping to at least double that amount for their next deals. We think ESPN, Warner, and other sports media partners could do even more. Women's sports are having a huge moment--not just in basketball but  in soccer and the new professional women's hockey league, not to mention the upcoming Olympics this summer. 

    A massive investment in the WNBA would be good for equality and women's sports. It's a good economic investment. And it's a win-win for ESPN. It's time for the networks to take a longer view on their support for women's sports. As WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said last week, "[W]e're setting the league up with this next media rights deal not just for the next three to five years but for the next 30."

    Add your name to tell ESPN, Warner, and other sports media companies to invest in WNBA.

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