The 2020 Women’s National Basketball Association season is expanding to a 36-game schedule and adding a new in-season tournament known as the Commissioner’s Cup.
The league’s 24th regular season tips off on May 15 and concludes on September 20. The league had a 34-game schedule since 2003.
The new schedule comes just days after the WNBA and Women’s National Basketball Players Association reached tentative agreement on a landmark eight-year collective bargaining agreement that includes sweeping improvements in pay and working conditions for players.
The upcoming campaign will be the inaugural year for the Commissioner’s Cup, in which 10 designated regular-season games per team will count towards the new in-season competition. The championship, for which there is a separate prize fund, will be contested between the top team in each conference in Cup standings and is tentatively scheduled for August 14.
In addition, ESPN networks will present 17 regular-season telecasts, including five games on ABC, up from three last season. ESPN will televise two regular-season games and ESPN2 will air 10. ESPN networks will also present up to 19 playoff games. All ESPN telecasts during the regular season and postseason will stream live on the ESPN app.
There will be a break in this year’s schedule for the Tokyo Olympics from July 11 to August 16.
“We are incredibly excited to introduce a first-of-its-kind in-season tournament for our league and present more regular-season games on ABC, increasing the WNBA’s national television exposure,” said WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert. “The Commissioner’s Cup offers fans another competition through which to support their favorite teams and adds a new dimension to the season for our players and teams.
“And the 2020 schedule gives fans even more opportunities to see the best players in the world compete at the highest level and highlights the ABC/ESPN family’s continued commitment to the WNBA and women’s sports,” she said.
The NBA is also considering its own in-season tournament in an attempt to boost flagging TV ratings.