NEW YORK — The WNBA is nearly doubling its national TV exposure after signing a multiyear deal with CBS Sports.
CBS Sports Network will broadcast 40 WNBA games — including five Sky games — when the season opens next month.
“Through our partnership with CBS Sports Network, the WNBA is joining an elite lineup of premium sports programming,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “We thank CBS Sports for making such a meaningful commitment to women’s basketball and for providing another platform to showcase the world-class athletes of the WNBA.”
The league, which will begin its 23rd season on May 24, also has a deal with ESPN to show 16 regular-season games, including three on ABC. Last year, the WNBA average viewership across ESPN2 and NBA TV was up 31 percent.
The first game on CBS Sports Network will be the Sky’s season opener on May 25 against the Minnesota Lynx. CBSSN also will televise the Sky when they face former league MVP Elena Delle Donne and the Washington Mystics on June 5, and also on July 10 when they host the Lynx at Wintrust Arena.
The Sky’s last two games on CBS Sports will be on Aug. 9 against the Las Vegas Aces and Aug. 16 against the Los Angeles Sparks.
CBS Sports will use local broadcast feeds for now, similar to what NBA TV does in televising WNBA games. NBA TV showed 49 games last year.
“This partnership is one of the biggest and most impactful women’s sports programming arrangements ever at CBS Sports, offering national exposure of 40 games per year,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said. “This agreement provides great live content throughout the summer in primetime and on weekends, and aligns two great brands in the WNBA and CBS Sports.”
The sides are still discussing expanding coverage to include features and other WNBA programming.
“It’s going to be beyond highlights,” said David Denenberg, who is the Senior Vice President, Global Media Distribution and Business Affairs, for NBA Entertainment. “Whether it’s features we develop or CBS develops, we want to do more.”
It’s unclear which games will air on ESPN or CBS going forward after this year.
“Suffice it to say, we have enough games we think we’ll put together a robust schedule for everyone,” Denenberg said. “We’ll announce the CBS schedule, ESPN schedule. I think we’re going to well serve all our partners.”