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Sin City Turns Into Title Town

Las Vegas Aces, Connecticut Sun Draw 5.41M Viewers for 2022 WNBA Finals

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Social Media
October 20, 2022
October 21, 2022
 min read

The 2022 WNBA postseason featured a new format with a traditional eight-team bracket completed in three rounds, each consisting of series rather than including one-game, winner-take-all scenarios in early rounds like in previous years. But when the dust settled, a Finals matchup with storylines abound presented itself. The top-seeded Las Vegas Aces cruised through the first two rounds against Phoenix and Seattle, while the Connecticut Sun was pushed to the brink of elimination by Dallas and defending champion Chicago – against whom they staged a furious comeback in a deciding Game 5 on the road – before reaching the sport’s grandest stage. Two teams, each with a former MVP and a supporting cast eager to atone for recent championship-round losses – Connecticut in 2019 and Las Vegas in the 2020 WNBA Bubble – were set to tip off in a best-of-five series for the title. We used MVP’s omnichannel platform to examine viewership figures at national and local levels while also exploring the social reach of both teams and the league throughout the 2022 WNBA Finals. Despite three games taking place opposite NFL contests during the series, the Aces and Sun drew 5.41 million collective viewers – peaking with Game 1’s total.

Finals Opener Attracts Audience of 2.12M

The opening game of the 2022 WNBA Finals had stiff viewership competition on other major networks. Airing on ABC, it tipped off at 3 p.m. ET on September 11, just as many of the early-window Week 1 NFL games were approaching crunch time. And as it progressed, the game’s second half coincided with kickoff times in the late afternoon NFL block. Nevertheless, basketball fans demonstrated significant interest in the WNBA championship series, as 2.12 million households tuned in to watch Game 1. Of that figure, 119,675 were in the New York market, which delivered the largest viewership totals for each of the four games. Meanwhile, the Hartford-New Haven market proved its affinity for the local Sun by producing an audience of 34,586 – good for 13th nationally. Its highest DMA rank during the series was fifth – only behind New York, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Chicago – during Game 3. Las Vegas ranked as high as 10th, earning that spot during the clinching Game 4. The final three games of the series all aired on ESPN, and although moving away from network television resulted in a dip in overall viewers, Games 2, 3, and 4 still averaged 1.1 million viewers per broadcast.

League Social Channels Surge on Game Day

WNBA social accounts went into overdrive to chronicle the Finals as well as the ensuing celebrations and recaps after the Aces won their first title in franchise history. Using MVP’s social platform, we analyzed league content across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter from September 10, one day before the Finals commenced, through September 25, a week following their conclusion. In that span, the WNBA’s owned channels generated $882,739 worth of brand value thanks to 2.38 million engagements and 46.3 million impressions on 467 posts. Unsurprisingly, the league was most active on game days, which accounted for $617,290 of the post value total. The WNBA earned the most engagements – 923,155 – and the highest average post value — $3,331 — on September 11, the day of Game 1. However, various other metric peaks coincided with Game 4, when the WNBA generated $275,685 in post value and 14.5 million impressions from 115 total posts. Notably, the top-performing branded post was shared on September 19, one day after the Finals ended. It featured the Aces’ locker room celebration and elicited 13,841 engagements. Consequently, it delivered $8,428 worth of brand value for Nike and $6,025 for Michelob Ultra.

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Aces Win on Court, Dominate Online

Championships are often decided by how teams handle a handful of critical situations in the late stages of games. This year’s WNBA Finals were no different. Although each team secured one convincing win during the series – Las Vegas in Game 2 and Connecticut in Game 3 – the other two games were intense until the final buzzer, and the Aces prevailed in each. But while the teams were competitive on the court, their social discrepancy was vast. Las Vegas dominated in every metric, with post value signifying the largest gap between the franchises. During the 15-day window we analyzed, the Aces generated $1.08M worth of post value — 13.85x more than the Sun created in that span. Furthermore, the Aces earned 10.28x more engagements and 11.2x more impressions from their Finals content. Las Vegas’s top post alone earned more post value – $85,472 – than the Sun’s collective total from 329 pieces of content.

However, despite the differences, each team experienced similarly large increases in average post value, engagements, and impressions relative to their regular season figures. The Aces’ average post value during the Finals was $1,768, an 82% jump from their norm. Meanwhile, Connecticut’s average post value jumped by 72% to $238. Both teams more than doubled their average engagements, with Connecticut receiving a 2.2x Finals boost and Las Vegas earning an increase of 2.81x per post.

Las Vegas Reveals the Winning Hand

After experiencing heartbreaking defeats in consecutive postseasons, the Las Vegas Aces finally played the winning hand to emerge victorious. As evidenced by an immense social media response in the days following their championship clincher as well as the thousands who celebrated during the team’s parade down the Las Vegas Strip, interest in the WNBA is clearly on the rise. During the offseason, MVP will continue to provide ongoing basketball coverage highlighting the NBA as well as men’s and women’s NCAA programs, but be on the lookout for more WNBA stories as the 2023 campaign approaches.

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