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ESPN, WNBA announce groundbreaking television deal, rebranding campaign

Today, the WNBA announced that the league has entered into a new television deal with ESPN through the 2022 season. In addition, it announced that it will embark on a new branding campaign which features a new league logo and uniforms for the 2014 season. According to the Sports Business Daily, this television deal will be worth approximately $12 million a season.

The WNBA's new ball with new logo formally announced today.
The WNBA's new ball with new logo formally announced today.
Image courtesy of the WNBA.

New Television Deal with ESPN

Like any other professional sports league, including the Big Four (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL), television exposure is a vital element in order to maintain and grow the game. The WNBA's deal with ESPN helps extend their relationship to 26 years. There will be approximately 30 live games televised on ESPN, ESPN 2, and ABC which will include the Finals. In addition to the extension of the TV deal, here are some other things that fans will get to see during select games:

  • Referee cam - This allows fans to view game action from the standpoint of officials who are often under-appreciated for what they do.
  • Look-ins - Gives fans a bigger degree of access to shoot-arounds and practices.
  • NBA player commentary - NBA players give in-game takes on WNBA games. Hopefully this shows them as color analysts more than as token interviews celebrating the "novelty" of professional women's basketball.
The new deal with ESPN will not affect the current deals the network has with the NBA.

New Branding and Marketing Campaign

The WNBA has decided to move on from the logo with a woman dribbling a basketball to a logo which looked very similar to the Jerry West silhouette for the NBA's logo, to a new one that features a silhouette of a more athletic woman which the league believes is a better symbolization of players playing today. The new logo will be featured on the game ball and on team uniforms effective for the 2013 season. The new logo was designed in conjunction with The Original Champions of Design, a New York City based branding and design agency.

In addition, the league will begin a new marketing campaign called "I Am Logowoman" through Twitter with the hashtag #iamlogowoman. Players will take part in the campaign and fans can also take part by taking photos of themselves emulating the new WNBA logo.

Lastly, the league also announced that Adidas, the current supplier of uniforms in the NBA, the WNBA, and the D League is designing new uniforms for the 2014 WNBA season. Perhaps the WNBA will now steer away from "standardized" uniforms that have been used in recent years with this particular piece of news.

What are your takes on the new TV deal and the new marketing campaign for the league? Speak below in the comments!

(Nate Parham also contributed to this article.)