What the conversation about Caitlin Clark’s pay gets wrong | CNN Business:

The WNBA’s stars aren’t asking to be paid an equal dollar amount to NBA players, however. Not right now, anyway. They acknowledge the reality of being in a league with a smaller pool of revenue to go around, and one that is a lot younger — without 50 preceding years of contract negotiations and the subsequent hard-won worker protections and salaries that come with that longevity.

What they want is more an issue of fairness, they say.

“W players want to be invested in, properly valued and fairly paid like other professionals,” Terri Jackson, head of the WNBA Players’ Association, the union representing the players, told CNN.

If the W players got what they wanted, the league wouldn’t exist. It’s a loss-leader for the $8 billion juggernaut that is the NBA. The WNBA is just the NBA’s attempt to get women interested in basketball. It loses about $10 million a year. It’s never been profitable. 

No team in the WNBA—and I can’t even name one without a list in front of me—averaged 10,000 fans per game last season. Half of them averaged less than 7,000 fans and four of them were under 5,000. The lowly Atlanta Dream barely broke 3,000. Of the top 10 most attended WNBA games of all-time, most are from the late 1990s and none are more recent than 2003. And these are cheap tickets, not NBA priced stubs. 

By contrast, the NBA just set records for total attendance (22.5 million), average attendance (18,324), percentage of capacity (98%), and sellouts (71%).

WNBA on ABC averaged 627,000 viewers in 2023—the most in 11 years. NBA viewership, which dropped last year, is on average about 2.5x higher (1.59 million per game).   

Maybe Caitlin Clark will provide the spark needed to change the WNBA financial picture, but I doubt it. The WNBA players are being invested in, they’re overvalued if anything, and they’re if they were “fairly paid like other professionals” they’d make no money at all because the league wouldn’t exist. That’s what “the conversation about Caitlin Clark’s pay gets wrong.”