American ticket exchange StubHub has reported that WNBA ticket sales have increased by 93% since basketball star Caitlin Clark burst onto the scene.

Sharing the statistics of ticket sales, StubHub has published its Inaugural WNBA Season Preview. The report highlights growth, ticket sales and trends, which Clark and her team the Indiana Fever are at the heart of.

Since Clark was selected as the first overall pick in the 2024 draft, StubHub has described ticket sales as “skyrocketing 13-fold”.

Adam Budelli, spokesperson for StubHub, commented: “StubHub has seen a significant increase in WNBA demand, just as we did in NCAAW Basketball this past season, marking a notable moment in the sport’s and league’s popularity.

“The 2023 WNBA Finals set a record for the league on StubHub, with sales tripling compared to the previous year. Now, as we head into this season, Caitlin Clark’s impact is electrifying, sparking an unprecedented 15x increase in searches for the Indiana Fever after her WNBA draft announcement.”

Based on cumulative StubHub ticket sales for the 2024 season as of 30 April 2024, the ticket exchange found that the top in-demand team is currently the Las Vegas Aces (reigning champions), followed by New York Liberty, Indiana Fever, Seattle Storm and Chicago Sky.

However, the top ranked trending team compared to ticket sales last year is the Indiana Fever, followed by Atlanta Dream, Minnesota Lynx, Dallas Wings and Washington Mystics. Surprisingly, none of the top ranked teams are in this list, which shows smaller teams are experiencing growth and that the league is becoming more balanced.

This is emphasised through a 93% increase in overall ticket sales, a growth trend that the league has seen over the past few years.

Looking back over a four-year period, sales have skyrocketed by over 41x on StubHub, compared to the same period preceding the 2018 season. Similarly, over a three-year span, sales have surged by 15x compared to 2019, while over a two-year period, they have quintupled compared to 2022.

This growth in ticket sales coincides with a notable increase in sponsorship interest in women’s basketball. According to SponsorUnited, there has been a 7% rise in deals for the WNBA, marking a significant milestone as the number of agreements surpassed 500 for the first time last year.

The Caitlin Clark effect

Despite the league’s ongoing year-over-year growth in ticket sales, the arrival of Clark has notably amplified this trend.

Not only has her team become the top trending side on StubHub, experiencing over 13x the interest compared to the same period last year, but the average daily site visits for the Indiana Fever surged nearly 15x compared to the previous day after announcing she was entering the draft.

Furthermore, following Clark’s draft to the Fever on 15 April, average daily site visits soared fourfold compared to the day prior.

Clark’s presence significantly bolsters the league’s growth, particularly evident when the Fever play away games. The top demand drivers for the season are the Indiana Fever away games, featuring in the ten best-selling games, with only one exception – a Vegas Aces game. Additionally, the average price of tickets across teams in the league experiences an 80% surge when the Fever are on the road.

Notably, the Fever command the highest average ticket price for away games, standing at $175, surpassing all other teams in the league.

Image courtesy of StubHub

College basketball holds the key

Caitlin Clark hasn’t just bursted onto the scene. In fact, the reason she saw so much attention at the draft and was selected first was due to her impressive reputation she gained playing for the Iowa Hawkeyes in college.

Looking in detail through StubHub statistics, the Hawkeyes emerged as the best-selling NCAAW basketball team for the 2023/24 season.Iowa’s dominance is further highlighted by their presence in nine out of the top 10 best-selling NCAAW basketball games on StubHub. 

The team’s final game of the season, Ohio State Buckeyes at Iowa Hawkeyes, clinched the top spot as the best-selling NCAAW basketball game of the season, surpassing the previous leader, Iowa Hawkeyes at Nebraska Cornhuskers, by 30% on StubHub.

Furthermore, the total sales for the Iowa Hawkeyes’ 2023/24 regular season surpassed the entire 2022/23 NCAAW basketball regular season sales by 40%.

This college trend doesn’t just apply to Clark and the Fever, however. Chicago Sky has also seen a boost in ticket demand with rookies.

The Sky has tripled sales compared to this time last season, driven in part by the arrival of notable stars from the NCAAW basketball tournament as rookies this season. Among them are Angel Reese from LSU and Kamilla Cardoso from South Carolina.

Interestingly, fans from Illinois represent 7% of the total WNBA ticket sales on StubHub this season, closely trailing behind California (14%) and New York (9%). This surge in sales and the strong presence of Illinois fans shows the growing popularity and support for the Chicago Sky within their home state.

Focusing on the influence of college athletes, it’s notable that among the five most searched North American women’s sports clubs, three hailed from the WNBA: the Chicago Sky, Las Vegas Aces, and New York Liberty, according to SponsorUnited.

Unsurprisingly, two of the top five most searched athletes were NCAA players Reese and Clark, with the pair also both starring in the most watched NCAA women’s basketball final of all time.

Said final boasted an average viewership of 18.7 million, as disclosed by ESPN, and the game reached a peak viewership of 24 million. These numbers marked a 285% increase compared to the 2022 national championship final. 

Budelli concluded: “New stars like Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, and Kamilla Cardoso are bringing their impact from NCAAW Basketball to the WNBA to continue the surge in popularity that we’ve seen for this league.

“The Indiana Fever have seen remarkable growth, with sales on StubHub skyrocketing over 13 times compared to last year. The Chicago Sky are also benefiting, with tripled sales, driven by NCAAW standouts.”

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