Caitlin Clark shrugs during a game.

Caitlin Clark (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
The WNBA has never been as popular as it is now in 2024, and that could be attributed to a new wave of players who are forever changing the game with their looks and overall play on the court.

Unfortunately, all of that increased popularity, increased fan attendance, and more viewers are still not helping the bottom line.

According to a report from the Washington Post, the WNBA is expected to lose around $50 million this season.

Despite its current momentum in 2024, the WNBA still generates only a small fraction of the revenue the NBA does, making it extremely tough for women’s pay to reach parity with men’s.

Margaret Fleming of Front Office Sports added that it boils down to the relationship between the WNBA and NBA because the bigger league is taking around 40% of the WNBA’s revenue, while outside investors receive an extra 20 percent.

As a result, the players are only bringing in 10% of the total revenue.

“The NBA’s massive coffers and influence have helped the WNBA stay afloat and grow through the years, including now, as the pair go up for a new media-rights agreement. It’s beneficial for the WNBA to stick with the NBA for these negotiations, commissioner Cathy Engelbert told the Post. ‘If we’re only there for 4½ months … how attractive is that?

But we and the NBA are maybe the only sports properties that can give 330 days of live programming—almost the entire year. That’s hugely valuable to a subscription platform,’ she said. The two leagues also share marketing efforts and several team owners. (The Post’s deep dive into how the WNBA works found that “Engelbert reports to Silver” ultimately.),” Fleming wrote.

“But while the WNBA is sustained by the NBA, it’s also in some ways drained by it. The NBA receives about 40% of WNBA revenue, and outside investors—the WNBA raised $75 million from Nike, NBA owners, the NBA itself, and others in 2022—get roughly 20%, leaving the teams and players of the WNBA with about 40% of its own revenue, the Post reported. And unlike the NBA, in which players evenly split revenue with team owners after the league office takes its portion, players in the WNBA see less than 10% of total revenue.”

It is no secret that the NBA provides the women’s league with an annual endowment of over $15 million, which helps cover various operating costs for WNBA teams, including facilities, travel, marketing, and administration.

The NBA owns 50% of the league, while the 12 teams collectively own the other 50%.

The Caitlin Clark Effect Could Forever Change The Direction of The WNBA And Provide More Money To The Ladies In The Long Run

Caitlin Clark (Photo by Brian Fluharty/Getty Images)

As a rising star already well known for being the main force behind women’s basketball’s unbelievable transformation, Clark joins the WNBA as a force that could cause massive change.

She went first overall in the WNBA draft not long after she helped the NCAA women’s Final Four break broadcast records with every game her Iowa team advanced to.

Her popularity saw ratings increase substantially for the WNBA Draft, which drew a bigger TV viewership than the most recent MLB and NHL drafts, per Sports Business Journal. If this keeps up, the league could be drawing in the type of money that would make the NBA blush.