What the WNBA is doing to capitalize on Caitlin Clark and other rising stars  

WNBA players include Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Cameron Brink, and Kamilla Cardoso.  

This is the most significant moment for the WNBA, as well-known players enter a league that has struggled to cultivate them.  

The only comparable launch was 1997 with Olympic superstars.  

The challenge now is to keep the collegiate viewership growing after 24 million watched Clark, the Fever's No. 1 pick, and Cardoso, the Sky's No. 3 pick, in the national championship game.  

Despite being a megastar, her warmup for the draft was a cameo on “Saturday Night Live.  

” In each WNBA Draft announcement at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Monday, commissioner Cathy Engelbert unveiled a star with hundreds of thousands of social followers.  

WNBA CMO Phil Cook told Yahoo Sports, “This is my 1997 moment,” before the draft. “Big names are coming in.   

. Your league rocks. My advantage is a 27-year-old platform they're walking over to.”  

Last week, UConn's Aaliyah Edwards (Mystics) and Nika Mühl (Storm) faced Iowa's Clark and Kate Martin, selected by the two-time champion Las Vegas Aces, in the Final Four in front of 14.2 million TV viewers.  

Sky Reese received nearly as much acclaim as Clark. Elizabeth Kitley (Aces) and Alissa Pili (Lynx) had huge college fanbases. Many schools have more followers than WNBA teams.  

In December 2020, Cook, a senior Nike executive, became the league's first CMO. He envisioned 144 players with on- and off-court stories. It's tedious to have 288 stories.  

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