Demand for Basketball: A Comparison of the WNBA and NBA

Nola Agha and David Berri

There is considerable discussion regarding interest in women’s basketball, with critics often comparing the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and the National Basketball Association (NBA). This comparison is problematic because the WNBA is in an early growth phase while the NBA organizational life cycle position is far more mature. We investigate whether the demand features of early growth leagues are similar by comparing attendance data from the 8th‒21st seasons of the WNBA with attendance from the same point in NBA history and the current NBA. We find the factors that affect demand in the WNBA are uniquely different than the NBA in both size and significance in either period; thus, it is inappropriate to compare the two leagues.

JEL Classification: L83, Z20, D12