Sports Betting Must Catch Up With the Rise of the WNBA as interest in Women's Basketball Sky-Rockets

Despite the historic rise in viewership coinciding with the boom of online sportsbooks, betting on WNBA games is extremely limited.

Dimers.com contributor John Lopez does a deep-dive on the increasingly popular world of women's basketball.

A quarter-century ago, the WNBA kicked off its initial season behind Lisa Leslie, Sheryl Swoopes, Rebecca Lobo, Cynthia Cooper, and several other superstars from the world of women’s college basketball.  The biggest reason for the growth of the WNBA has been one thing — accessibility. 

 

The 2021 WNBA season was the most watched season since 2008.  Between 2020 and 2021, there was over a 50% jump in viewership, and this year’s WNBA Draft had 20% more viewers than last year’s. 

Women’s basketball, in general, had a greater expansion into households with this year’s NCAA Women’s Basketball March Madness tournament seeing a 30% jump from 2019, and the championship game was the most watched women’s championship since 2004, when Diana Taurasi led the Huskies to their third title in a row. 

So why the sudden interest in the WNBA?   

What changed?   

Accessibility is the answer. 

In 2019, only 61 games were televised, with 19 being on ESPN or ABC.  In 2021, there were 109 games televised with 34 being on ESPN or ABC. 

This season, games have been televised on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, CBS Television, NBA TV, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon Video.  In addition, a record-high 27 postseason games will be televised this season. 

So what’s this all have to do with sports betting?   

Well, despite this historic rise in viewership coinciding with the boom of online sportsbooks, betting WNBA games is extremely limited. If you wanted to bet on an WNBA game right now, you might have 14 betting options total for the entire game. 

On the flipside, if you wanted to bet on Steph Curry in the NBA Finals, there were 176 different options for just Steph on the “Popular” tab on FanDuel.  Despite there being a high demand for WNBA player props, there is zero supply from the big online sportsbooks like FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook.

Daily Fantasy Sports apps have added WNBA player props and here at Dimers we will soon, too. Some research platforms have also added WNBA player props.  Sports betting media companies have added WNBA contributors and writers.   

Is this in anticipation of available WNBA player markets? And if so, when will the online sportsbooks follow? 

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