“We are truly excited to partner with the WNBA, bringing the country’s premier women’s sports league to CBS Sports Network. This partnership is one of the biggest and most impactful women’s sports programming arrangements ever at CBS Sports, offering national exposure of 40 games per year,” said Sean McManus, Chairman, CBS Sports.
“This agreement provides great live content throughout the summer in primetime and on weekends, and aligns two great brands in the WNBA and CBS Sports. We look forward to working with the WNBA for many years to come.” (WNBA)
This 2019 season is the most important summer in the history of the WNBA. With the collective bargaining agreement ending in 2020 and players desperately needing higher wages, this CBS deal can potentially save the league.
The best player in the league, Breanna Stewart, tore her achilles playing in Europe earlier this month because in order for these women to make real money, they need to play basketball all year round and Euroleague ball plays more than the WNBA.
So the face of the league, the reigning MVP and defending WNBA champion is out for the year. Maya Moore, the most decorated and successful women in the history of the sport, is taking the season off for personal reasons. Skyler Diggins, the woman who has the most mainstream fame outside of the league, is missing the season due to pregnancy. Liz Cambage, the leading scorer from the previous year, requested a trade from the Dallas Wings and may sit out the season if he demands aren’t met.
There is so much going against the WNBA this year.
At the same time, this year’s draft brought in the best talent pool that the league has ever seen. This draft was so stacked that Megan Gustafson, the Naismith Player of the Year and the best player in college basketball, was selected in the second round.
Of course, we can have a nuanced conversation about Gustafson’s skill set perhaps not translating into success at the next level but that’s the point. Five years ago, teams didn’t have the luxury of having those discussions because there simply wasn’t enough talented players to over-evaluate.
Even with some of the league’s biggest stars missing, we are about to get a major injection of fresh young exciting talent to take the baton and lead the sport into a new frontier and a frontier that will be witnessed by millions on CBS.
CBS is the default network for most televisions. There’s a reason why Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother were the most viewed shows by miles. They were just always on in the background.
The WNBA is going to be playing on televisions in sports bars this season more than any previous season simply because a lazy bar owner is going to turn on the TVs at noon, CBS is going to be playing a Phoenix Mercury game and the owner is going to shrug and say ‘fuck it. It’s sports’.
Let’s also not forget that Candace Parker has become a household name for any basketball fan with her work with TNT this season. Yes, Breanna Stewart and Maya Moore are MIA but Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi are still stars. Oh, is Elena Delle Donne still Godzilla on a basketball court? Yea, the league will do fine.
This is about to be the biggest season in WNBA and I’ll be tuned into CBS to watch every second of it.
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