Friday, October 23, 2009

Slate's Prescription for the WNBA

In short: Stop trying to sell women's basketball to men (at least to straight men). Even though I'm a straight man who appreciates the WNBA, Slate's Josh Levin makes a convincing argument:

It stands to reason, though, that you're more likely to succeed by marketing your product to people who already like it than by trying to win over people who don't. Which leads to the second way to address the male-hoops-fan problem: ignore them. The audience for the WNBA is, by various accounts, between 60 percent and 80 percent female. The league also has a major following in the gay and lesbian community, a community that some franchises court and others aggressively alienate. If the WNBA focuses primarily on these fans, they can still have a large enough customer base to survive and succeed.

This comes after the sad news that the Detroit Shock, one of the WNBA's most successful franchises, are moving to Tulsa. This is sad because of the tradition the Shock built during their time in the Motor City, but mid-sized cities with no other major professional sports (i.e. Tulsa) might be a good fit for the WNBA in the long run. (And the Shock should be thankful that they're only moving. The Houston Comets, by any measure the league's most succesful franchise, folded last winter.)


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