UltraViolet Says Increasing Broadcast Rates For WNBA is Smart Business; Help Close the Pay Gap for Women’s Athlete

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, April 15, 2024
CONTACT: Brett Abrams | brett@unbendablemedia.com 

Thousands Join Campaign Calling on ESPN, Warner, and Ion to Stop Underpaying Women’s Athletic Leagues, Pay WNBA More For Broadcast Rights

WNBA Currently Negotiating with Networks Ahead of 2025 Renewal; Advertisers Plan to Double Investment in Women’s Basketball After the Record-Breaking Ratings & Attendance for NCAA March Madness Season

UltraViolet Says Increasing Broadcast Rates For WNBA is Smart Business; Help Close the Pay Gap for Women’s Athlete

Thousands of people nationwide have joined a new petition and campaign from UltraViolet, a national gender justice organization, calling on ESPN, Warner, Ion, and other sports providers to stop underpaying women’s sports leagues, and specifically to pay more for broadcast rights to the WNBA. 

UltraViolet argues that increasing broadcast rates for the WNBA is not just smart business sense, but is also key in helping close the pay gap experienced by women athletes.

The call to the networks comes as national attention has been focused on the record-breaking NCAA women’s basketball tournament – which broke both the most-watched and best-attended season ever. The WNBA, currently in negotiations with major providers, is hoping to double its broadcasting revenue in their new deal. 


Star athletes from the season like Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Kamilla Cardoso, Cameron Brink, Aaliyah Edwards, and Jacey Sheldon moving onto the WNBA this year – which has also seen record growth over the years. According to Sportico, the “… the 2023 campaign was the WNBA’s most-watched regular season in over 20 years, and its highest attendance in 13 years.” Tickets to attend tonight’s WNBA draft sold out in 15 minutes and TV viewership is likely to break records. 

The increased attention has drawn focus from major advertisers as well with reports that Disney’s ad revenue for the NCAA tournament doubled from last year, ad space for the Final Four tournament was sold out, and women’s elite sports were expected to generate 300% more revenue than just three years ago. GroupM, the world’s largest media buying agency, also announced a commitment to double media investment in women’s sports. 

“Women’s basketball, like all elite women’s sports, are finally getting the attention that they have always deserved,” explained Nicole Relegado, Vice President of Campaigns at UltraViolet. “Now it’s time to make sure that the women’s sports leagues and thus their players get paid fairly too. Paying the WNBA more for its broadcasting rights makes good business sense. ESPN, Warner, and Ion are seeing record profits from ad sales as major advertisers only plan to increase their buys. But it also is the right thing to do. Higher broadcast rights would mean that the WNBA teams have more money to invest in their athletes, increasing salaries and setting up women’s sports for a generation to come.”

UltraViolet has a long record of campaigning for fairer pay in elite women’s sports. 

  • In 2015, Ultraviolet pressured FIFA to close the pay gap after the 2015 Women’s World Cup champions netted only $2 million for their win, while the winners of the 2014 men’s World Cup netted $35 million. 
  • In 2016, during the women’s soccer finals at the Rio Olympics, UltraViolet ran a TV ad calling for the U.S. Women’s National soccer team players receive equal pay for equal play.  
  • In 2019, UltraViolet launched a campaign targeting US Soccer to demand an equal pay policy for men and women players, bolstering efforts toward a successful agreement signed by US men’s and women’s soccer teams last year.

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