Few, if any, issues hang over the WNBA’s relationship with its players like charter flights, and league commissioner Cathy Engelbert again answered the question in an interview with ESPN’s MA Voepel published Friday.
Engelbert reportedly told ESPN that such a haul, for both a 40-game regular season and the playoffs, would cost the league $25 million a year, a price she said was too high for the finances. current league:
“And what some people miss is that it’s not a one-year funding,” Engelbert told ESPN. “It’s something you have to fund – I mean in perpetuity – but let’s say you have to make sure you have a business model to fund it for at least a decade.
“So even if you bring in a sponsor to fund it for a year…sponsors can come and go. So you have to make sure you have a workable business model to fund it for the long term.”
WNBA players have long chafed at having to steal commercially, with the league even banning teams from footing the bill themselves due to an alleged unfair advantage, but the issue has been given new urgency in because of the situation surrounding Brittney Griner.
If the Phoenix Mercury star chooses to star next season, some believe she will need private flights due to security concerns after being held in a Russian prison last year. That would create a conundrum for the league since you’d imagine Griner’s teammates in Phoenix would come around.
Newly signed New York Liberty star Breanna Stewart reportedly made air travel a major factor in her free agency and spoke out last month, calling for a deal that would subsidize charter travel for the WNBA. She pledged her own resources to help the cause and received public pledges from Sue Bird and Ja Morant, but Engelbert told ESPN she believed the most viable route would be a new rights agreement. media:
“The way all leagues that have charters are funded is through huge media rights deals,” Engelbert said. “That’s why we’re working so hard to transform the economy of our league. We want to create a revenue stream – at league and team level – where we have bigger corporate sponsorships.
“I am obviously very vocal about the fact that there is a huge undervaluation in women’s sport of our media rights. We need to correct this in our next round of media negotiations.
The WNBA’s current media rights agreement with ESPN and ABC would expire after the 2025 season, although the league also has games broadcast via CBS Sports, Amazon Prime, Twitter, Facebook and NBA TV.
That year will loom large for the future of the WNBA, as the league has seen impressive ratings growth, but will still need a network to bet big on its future.
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