WNBA announces Google partnership and broadcast schedule for landmark 25th season
Tech giant commits to multiyear agreement with the league
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The WNBA announced Monday that Google will become a WNBA Changemaker and presenting partner of the WNBA on ESPN. The world’s largest tech company is now the official trends and fan insights partner of the WNBA, as well as an official marketing and technology partner of the league. As part of the landmark deal, Google will collaborate with ESPN to offer “25 for 25,” or 25 regular-season games across ESPN networks for the league’s 25th season, which tips off Friday, May 14th.
In addition to supporting the WNBA’s national broadcast schedule, Google also becomes an associate sponsor of upcoming ESPN Films projects, including the 30 for 30 franchise, and for the All-Star Game, and the inaugural WNBA Commissioner's Cup. Google will also be presenting a weekly montage of the best women’s sports highlights on SportsCenter beginning in May.
These efforts are intended to increase the reach and visibility of the WNBA across media platforms. Google Chief Marketing Officer Lorraine Twohill affirmed that Google is committed to creating content that is more equitable and representative of women athletes:
For too long now, women’s sports have been underrepresented in the media. The WNBA has worked tirelessly to change that and has been at the forefront of progress for gender equity, racial justice, and sport. We are proud to partner with the WNBA and ESPN over the coming years to continue the charge and deliver on our commitment to gender equity and the future of women. It’s important to us that our product experiences are equitable for all genders and we want to make sure our media spend is equitable too, bringing more women’s content to television. With the WNBA and ESPN, we can help ensure women athletes get the recognition and media time they deserve, so that the world can see their incredible talents.
Google joins AT&T, Nike, and Deloitte as the league’s participating WNBA Changemakers. The Changemakers platform is designed to provide corporate support to the league’s marketing, branding, and player and fan experience initiatives.
WNBA announces broadcast and streaming schedule
The WNBA also announced its broadcast schedule for the 2021 season on Monday, which features 100 nationally-televised games across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, CBS Television Network, CBS Sports Network, and NBA TV. The league also announced that 12 games will be streamed on #WNBATwitterLive and 20 games will be available on both Facebook and “Venues” on Oculus Quest, an interactive virtual reality platform owned by Facebook.
WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said the following in a statement:
Providing significant opportunities to view WNBA games across traditional and streaming platforms drives expanded coverage to our growing fan base. Our goal is to deliver as many WNBA games and content to our passionate fans and supporters across platforms that best match the evolution of content consumption. Also, we are grateful to Google and ESPN for collaborating on “25 for 25” and we will continue to look for ways to innovate and shape the future landscape of the fan experience.
NBA TV will broadcast the season opener on Friday, May 14th at 7 p.m. ET which features 2020 No. 1 overall draft pick Sabrina Ionescu and the New York Liberty as they host the Indiana Fever at the Liberty’s new home, Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
Other highlights of the opening weekend include two-time league MVP Candace Parker’s debut with the Chicago Sky against former MVP Tina Charles and the Mystics (1 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 15th on ABC) and a 2020 championship rematch between defending champion Seattle Storm and the Las Vegas Aces (3 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 15th on ABC). Last season’s runner-up Aces are led by 2020 regular-season MVP A’ja Wilson and have 6’8 Australian superstar center Liz Cambage returning along with newly acquired All-Star Chelsea Gray.
CBS Sports Network will air a pair of games on Sunday, May 16th, starting with a rematch of Friday’s match-up between the Liberty and the Fever at 2 p.m. ET and wrapping up with a 7 p.m. ET match-up between the Connecticut Sun and the Phoenix Mercury, led by the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer Diana Taurasi.