Photo courtesy of The Wrap.
After the announcement of their historic new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the WNBA has announced their 2020 season schedule, and we are hyped!
Beginning on May 15th, the next WNBA season will be bigger than ever: for the first time since 2003, the schedule has expanded from 34 to 36 games. The league will take an Olympic break from the middle of July to August 16th, though the games will hopefully draw more attention to some of the league’s biggest stars.
Not only are the number of games expanding, but so are the number of matches that will be broadcasted.
“We are honoured to once again offer fans an extensive slate of WNBA matchups this season, with games on ESPN/ESPN2 and an increase on ABC,” said ESPN VP of Programming and Acquisition Carol Stiff. “The WNBA continues to be a priority for ESPN, as it has been since its launch. We look forward to working hand-in-hand with the league, elevating women’s professional basketball to new heights.”
Going into the 24th WNBA season, ESPN networks will be presenting 17 regular-season games with five of those airing on ABC (last season ABC aired two). ESPN2 will continue as the main channel with 10 of the 17 games, and ESPN’s main channel will show two games. Up to 19 playoff games will be presented through ESPN networks, and all of the telecasts through the season are also available to stream on the ESPN app.
Something new this season is the addition of the Commissioner’s Cup: a tournament that will take place throughout the regular season, creating an opportunity for players to earn cash prizes.
“We are incredibly excited to introduce a first-of-its-kind in-season tournament for our league and present more regular-season games on ABC, increasing the WNBA’s national television exposure,” said League Commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “The Commissioner’s Cup offers fans another competition through which to support their favourite teams and adds a new dimension to the season for our players and teams. And the 2020 schedule gives fans even more opportunities to see the best players in the world compete at the highest level and highlights the ABC/ESPN family’s continued commitment to the WNBA and women’s sports.”
For the first half of the season before the Olympic Break, each team will play 10 Cup games consisting of their first home and road games against their conference rivals. The championship will then take place between the top team in each conference in the Cup game standings, and is scheduled tentatively for August 14th as the first game after the Olympics before the regular season resumes on the 16th. At the moment the tiebreaker procedure is to be determined. While each team’s 10 Cup games will count towards the regular season records, the championship game will not.
As part of the new financial incentive plan from the WNBA’s new CBA the Commissioner’s Cup is an opportunity for players to earn some cash prizes. The amount for this season is undisclosed, but is set to increase for the 2021 season.
SIGNIFICANT MATCH UPS
The season tips off at on Friday May 15th at 7pm ET on League Pass with a matchup of Atlanta Dream vs Indiana Fever.
One big opening match to note will be the Dallas Wings vs. Seattle Storm on May 15th. The Storm will see the return of both former MVP Breanna Stewart (out last season with a torn Achilles), and Sue Bird (knee). This game will take place at 10pm ET on League Pass.
The first televised match, and potentially the most anticipated, takes place on Saturday May 16th when reigning MVP Elena Delle Donne and her champion Mystics face two-time MVP Candace Parker and the Sparks at 4pm ET on ESPN.
Assuming the Liberty take college star Sabrina Ionescu with the No. 1 draft pick, her first game will take place on May 16th at 7pm ET against last year’s number two pick Asia Durr and All-Star Kia Nurse’s Connecticut Sun. This game can be watched on League Pass.
June 28th will see a WNBA finals rematch between Washington and Connecticut at 3pm ET that can be viewed on ESPN2.
The full season schedule can be seen HERE.
All games can be accessed through the WNBA League Pass. The pass includes the ability to watch every game from each team on any personal device you own. Features include, statistical overlays, live game PVR, and the ability to re-watch each matchup. The league pass is only $4.99 US for the entire season, so skip a coffee or two and support quality women’s professional sport.