WNBA Teams Embrace AI-Powered Platforms as Fan Engagement Surges Amid League Growth
Game 1 of the highly anticipated 2023 WNBA Finals, which saw Las Vegas Aces defeat New York Liberty 99-82, made history by garnering record-breaking viewership. ESPN reported an average audience of 729,000 – a remarkable achievement that follows a regular season marked by a significant surge in fan engagement.
In an exciting development for the league, the addition of the first new franchise since 2008 was recently announced. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert revealed Golden State Warriors have been awarded an expansion team license, set to commence their inaugural season in 2025.
As the WNBA continues to expand and evolve, an increasing number of its franchises are harnessing the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance fan experiences and cater to the rising demands of their supporters. The defending champion Aces, for instance, have partnered with ON, formerly known as GameON Technology, to leverage an AI chat system through the company’s enterprise-grade platform.
“It’s been a breakthrough season for our platform and the WNBA,” ON CEO and co-founder Alex Beckman enthused
“We collaborate with the Aces, and we’re genuinely excited to be their communication partner, enhancing fan engagement throughout this playoff run.”
— WNBA (@WNBA) October 8, 2023
Beckman noted that the data collected this season has yielded promising results.
“We’ve seen some amazing stats,” he said.
“The WNBA teams we work with have done an amazing job getting (AI) chat out there. We’ve seen 30 percent engagement click-through rates on content. So, one out of three pieces of content that are being sent to fans through chat are being open and being engaged with.”
“We are seeing 70 percent of fans engage with ticketing. So a click-through rate of 70 percent on ticketing-based opportunities sent to fans through chat. Normally, you would see that flipped. Content would be having a higher engagement rate than business opportunities. We see a huge match between the WNBA fans and the teams. The fans that are chatting want to be there, and they’re finding chat to be an excellent way to wind up putting themselves in the stadium.”
Five NBA teams own WNBA teams: Indiana Pacers (Indiana Fever), Minnesota Timberwolves (Minnesota Lynx), Washington Wizards (Washington Mystics), Brooklyn Nets (New York Liberty) and Brooklyn Nets (New York Liberty).
The introduction of the Warriors will mark the sixth franchise to join this group.
Commissioner Engelbert expressed her excitement about expanding the league to the Bay Area and embracing a region with a passionate basketball fanbase and a strong history of supporting women’s basketball.
The Warriors’ co-owners, Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, who have a proven track record of building a successful NBA franchise, will own and operate the new WNBA franchise.
“Joe Lacob, Peter Guber, and their leadership team have demonstrated their ability to build and manage a world-class organisation, as evidenced by the immense success of the Warriors’ franchise, both from a business and basketball perspective, over the past decade,” Englebert said.
“Their eagerness to join the WNBA family underscores the league’s potential for continued growth.”
As the WNBA continues to evolve, AI technology is playing a pivotal role in enhancing the fan experience and fostering a deeper connection between fans and their favourite teams.’’
The Aces lead the WNBA Finals 2-1 after the Liberty responded with a 14-point victory in Game 3 on Monday (AEDT).