The WNBA has made history once again in its most-watched draft in 16 years.
Just days following the 2020 WNBA draft, and the first ever virtual, ESPN and league officials shed light on numbers for the event which averaged 387,000 viewers. That number is up 123-percent from the 2019 WNBA draft and up 33-percent from the last time it was on ESPN in 2011 making it the most-watched draft in since 2004.
The 2020 #WNBADraft on ESPN
???? Most-watched since 2004
???? Increase of 123% over last year pic.twitter.com/Qr7NsRqqZD
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) April 21, 2020
WNBA and NBA social media handles were impacted as well generating all-time numbers surrounding the event. Social media handles generated 6.5 million video views which is up 165-percent from 2019. There were 1.3 million minutes watched on WNBA related content which is uo 237 percent from 2019. The WNBA official Instagram account earned more than 3.8 million video views on the day of the draft.
As the popularity of women's basketball continues to climb, these numbers were greatly impacted by the popularity of national sensation Sabrina Ionescu from Oregon who was draft No. 1 overall by the New York Liberty. The former Oregon guard holds NCAA career records for triple-doubles and is the only man or woman to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. She has become a household name for anyone who is a fan of the game of basketball.
The first-ever virtual draft took place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many professional sports consider the WNBA has the guinea pig of the virtual draft, but clearly these numbers show that they are trailblazers in a realm of uncharted territory (as quoted by Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller). The future of training camp and season are unknown at this time as both have been pushed back until further notice.