WNBA attendance grows to highest level since 2011

NEW YORK (AP) WNBA metrics are strong again, with attendance up for the second straight year.

The league had nearly 1.6 million fans this season and averaged 7,716 per game, the highest total since 2011.

''The success of the 2017 WNBA regular season clearly demonstrates that we have further strengthened our connection with our fans and grown our support thanks to the hard work and dedication of the league's players, teams and partners,'' WNBA President Lisa Borders said. ''After a record-setting regular season, we are looking forward to the start of an exciting postseason.''

The playoffs began Wednesday with Washington and Phoenix both winning at home to advance to the second round.

Defending champion Los Angeles led the attendance boon averaging 11,350 fans - the team's most since 2002. That's 17.8 percent more than 2016.

''The Sparks are extremely proud of our growth in attendance this year,'' said Los Angeles President and COO Christine Simmons. ''We have the most amazing fans who are beyond passionate about their beloved reigning champions and we have implemented strategies to grow the 18-34 demographic.''

The Lynx also had a boost, averaging 10,407 fans, the franchise's most since 1999 - Minnesota's inaugural season.

The league also had huge numbers in its inaugural season on Twitter with the 20 games that were live-streamed averaging 613,000 unique views per game. Viewership came from around the world which is no surprise since many of the WNBA's players compete overseas in the winter. Unfortunately many of those same fans won't be able to watch the postseason games since there is no deal in place for playoff games to be shown on Twitter. ESPN holds the rights to the playoffs in the U.S. as well as a few areas around the world that include Australia, New Zealand and some of Latin America.

The WNBA also had a solid first season on FanDuel's daily fantasy site. There were over 2.2 million total entries during the regular season on the site.

Not all the numbers were positive. ESPN's viewership was down 24 percent from last year, although streaming numbers were up for the network by eight percent.

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