The WNBA scored a handful of business wins at Toronto preseason game
The GIST: Talk about a successful weekend getaway. The WNBA scored a handful of business wins at Saturday’s preseason game in Toronto, potentially offering insight on the league’s domestic and international expansion plans.
The details: A sold-out Scotiabank Arena crowd of 19.8K matched the fervor from Canadian brands. The league booked 15 marketing partners and outperformed all revenue targets for the game, while interest in the WNBA soared among NBA Canada’s partners as a result of the event. Several partners, like Tangerine, pitched in on advertising, merch, and community activations.
The expansion: Toronto’s preseason game was billed as an audition for an expansion team backed by MLSE and New Media Group. WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert confirmed the city is “on the list”, and MLSE–owned Scotiabank Arena already has league approval, with Saturday’s game bolstering the 6ix’s strong case.
- Toronto boasts around 6M WNBA fans nationally, and average regular season Canadian viewership has jumped over 95% during the last three years. Plus, the country’s women’s pro sports market is currently worth $110M to $148M. Not bad, eh?
The globalization: This Canada trip also demonstrates the WNBA’s growing global strategy. The league is forging relationships with the NBA’s seven international offices, including NBA Canada, and Saturday’s game may have built the roadmap for a WNBA version of the NBA’s annual Canada Series.
Zooming out: The success of this weekend’s game proves Toronto’s viability as a WNBA market, but now the league must decide if the city is best suited for a franchise or just exhibition games. It may be a tough decision, but either option opens up new revenue streams that could be replicated in other cities. Decisions, decisions.