Interest in the WNBA is the highest it has ever been, but who are the fans?
May 8th, 2024, Rishad Dsouza

Interest in the WNBA is the highest it has ever been, but who are the fans?

Excitement for the WNBA is higher than it’s been, according to data from YouGov SportsIndex. As of April 28, the shares of those who say they are likely to give up time to follow the WNBA has risen to 6.4% - which is the highest it has been since YouGov began tracking in mid-2018.

The previous peak – of 5.8% - was registered in the middle of the 2022 season. That scores have peaked well before the start of the upcoming season goes to further illustrate the significantly higher interest in the league this time around. For those who’ve been following women’s basketball, the update perhaps won’t be too surprising. Afterall, the Women’s March Madness tournament this year was markedly more popular than it was last year. The growing popularity of the game has been further exemplified by the surging interest in Caitlin Clark, who is the fourth most popular basketball player in the US currently. In fact, she is also among the most positively rated basketball players – male or female – among American men.

Amid the burgeoning profile of the women’s game, it’s as good a time as any to understand these set of fans better. Data from YouGov Profiles – which collects data on various consumer behaviors, attitudes and sentiments on an ongoing basis – allows us to do just that.

The demographics of WNBA fans

WNBA fans are a young crowd on the whole, even more so than the NBA, which already has one of the largest proportions of young fans among major American sports properties. Those aged 18-34 make up 47% of WNBA fans and 42% of NBA fans. For context, this group makes up only 30% of the overall adult US population.

Women make up a 44% of all WNBA fans, slightly higher than their share in the NBA fan group (40%).

Their distribution across the country is also somewhat different compared to the overall US population. Only 16% of them stay in the Midwest compared to 21% of Americans on the whole. They are slightly more likely to be residents of the Northeast (20% vs 18%) and the West (27% vs 24%).

Attitudes towards sponsorship of WNBA fans

Demographics data can help brands effectively target audiences, but how to approach audiences is another matter. YouGov Profiles also tracks attitudes towards sponsorship of various fandoms, which can help brands tailor their strategies.

The data tells us that WNBA fans are strong believers in the power of sponsorship – nearly four-fifths of them (77%) feel sponsorship can help keep companies socially relevant compared to 72% to NBA fans. They are also more likely to notice event sponsors (71% vs 62%) and to say that they like to support their teams by buying from sponsors (70% vs 61%).

But the greater receptiveness to sponsorship comes at a cost – a greater emphasis on loyalty in that they are more prone to preferring brands that stick to sponsoring one team (64% vs 54%).

Make smarter business decisions with better intelligence. Understand exactly what your audience is thinking by leveraging our panel of 20 million+ members. Speak with us today.

Methodology: YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Profiles data is nationally representative and weighted by age, gender, education, region, and race. Learn more about Profiles.