The WNBA is stepping up its marketing game this offseason

December 23, 2022
Tuesday report offered a glance at the league’s player marketing agreements (PMAs), which are designed to amplify the W’s reputation and help solve its well-publicized salary issues.
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SOURCE: ERICA DENHOFF/ICON SPORTSWIRE VIA GETTY IMAGES
SOURCE: ERICA DENHOFF/ICON SPORTSWIRE VIA GETTY IMAGES

The GIST: The WNBA is stepping up its marketing game this offseason. A Tuesday report offered a glance at the league’s player marketing agreements (PMAs), which are designed to amplify the W’s reputation and help solve its well-publicized salary issues.

The program: Thanks to the 2020 collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the W pays select players for personal and league-specific marketing endeavors during the offseason. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert hopes the PMAs will transform the W’s economic model and ensure year-round promotion of the league.

  • The CBA requires the WNBA to contribute $1 million to the program annually, but has some flexibility. After only spending $500K on PMAs last year, the league added the surplus to 2022’s $1.5 million budget.

The players: Ten players — including Minnesota Lynx Napheesa Collier and the Connecticut Sun’s Jasmine Thomas — signed PMAs this year, up from three in 2021. They will attend events like NBA or college hoops games on the W’s behalf, mingle with sponsors and industry execs and focus on their post-basketball brand building.

  • Players can make no more than $250K each, still less than what many earn playing elsewhere during the offseason. Sun forward Jonquel Jones, for example, rejected a PMA to ply her trade with Turkish team Çukurova.

Zooming out: Year-round promotion can help counteract a history of marketing struggles for women’s sports, and this program cleverly utilizes the W’s greatest asset — the players. Coupled with the prioritization rule requiring players to return from overseas gigs for the preseason, the league may have more access to its athletes than ever.

  • That said, with athletes only guaranteed a maximum of $250K and just 7% of the player pool currently in the program, it’s worth asking: Are PMAs an adequate bandage for WNBA players’ wage woes?
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