ESPN Coverage Starts Opening Day with MVPs Maya Moore of Minnesota and Diana Taurasi of Phoenix Going Head-to-Head
The WNBA’s historic 20th season tips off on Saturday, May 14 with five games, highlighted by an ESPN telecast of the defending WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx and the Phoenix Mercury at 7:30 p.m. ET. Finals MVP Maya Moore leads Minnesota, while Phoenix features seven-time All-Star Diana Taurasi and reigning two-time WNBA Defensive Player of the Year presented by Samsung Brittney Griner.
WNBA Tip-Off 2016 presented by Verizon consists of 12 games over nine days (May 14-22), showcasing the home opener of every team.
In the other opening-day matchups, 2015 WNBA MVP presented by Samsung Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky host the Connecticut Sun (8 p.m. ET); the newly relocated Dallas Wings play at the Indiana Fever (6 p.m. ET); the New York Liberty visit the Washington Mystics (7 p.m. ET); and the Atlanta Dream take on the host San Antonio Stars (8 p.m. ET).
The 2016 season also features a new, more balanced regular-season schedule highlighted by more cross-conference games. Details of the new format are available here.
ESPN networks will air up to 33 games, including wall-to-wall coverage of the WNBA postseason with ESPN networks televising every game of the WNBA Playoffs and WNBA Finals presented by Verizon. All ESPN telecasts will also be available on WatchESPN. NBA TV will televise more than 40 games during the regular season. That telecast schedule will be announced at a later date.
In addition, WNBA LiveAccess will provide online and mobile viewing of live and archived WNBA games for the entire season.
In October 2014, the NBA and ESPN announced an extension of the partnership between the WNBA and ESPN through which WNBA games will continue to be televised on ESPN networks through the 2025 season. The agreement extends the league’s relationship with ESPN, which commenced in 1997, to 29 years.
Highlights of the ESPN/ESPN2 regular-season telecast schedule for 2016 include:
- All 14 games feature at least one winner of the WNBA Most Valuable Player Award presented by Samsung.
- Nine telecasts with league MVPs going head-to-head, highlighted by a pair of clashes involving the two most recent MVPs – Chicago’s Delle Donne (2015) and Minnesota’s Moore (2014). The two meet July 5 in Minnesota and Sept. 13 in Chicago.
- Five straight telecasts featuring former MVPs squaring off, beginning opening day with Taurasi (2009) and the Mercury visiting Moore and the Lynx. Candace Parker (2008 and 2013) and the Los Angeles Sparks visit Delle Donne and the Sky on May 24; Moore and the Lynx face Tina Charles (2012) and the Liberty in New York on May 31; Charles and Parker meet in Los Angeles on June 7; and the Indiana Fever’s Tamika Catchings and Moore square off in Minnesota on June 14.
- On June 21, the 19-year anniversary of the WNBA’s inaugural game, the Wings, led by All-Star Skylar Diggins, will make their ESPN2 debut with a home game against the Mercury. The Wings also will close out ESPN’s regular-season schedule when they visit the Fever on the final day of the season, Sept. 18.
- On Aug. 28, ESPN2 will air a doubleheader tipping off with Seattle at Minnesota at 7 p.m. ET, followed by Los Angeles at Phoenix at 9 p.m. ET.
- Minnesota will appear on six ESPN/ESPN2 telecasts; Los Angeles will make five appearances. Phoenix will be featured in four telecasts, with Chicago, Dallas and Indiana each appearing three times.
The 2016 WNBA regular season runs from Saturday, May 14 through Sunday, Sept. 18.
With as many as 25 WNBA players likely to represent their respective countries at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from Aug. 5-21, the league has not scheduled any games from July 23 through Aug. 25. Similar to the 2004, 2008 and 2012 seasons that also saw a break in the schedule for the Olympics, WNBA teams and players will remain active in their local communities during the hiatus. Players not competing in the Olympics will participate in a variety of community-based events and activities designed to give fans a unique opportunity to interact with their favorite WNBA teams.
After the 2016 Summer Olympics, in which the United States looks to earn its sixth consecutive gold medal in women’s basketball, the WNBA will tip off the second half of its season on Friday, Aug. 26. The regular-season schedule concludes Sunday, Sept. 18, with the WNBA Playoffs presented by Verizon scheduled to beginWednesday, Sept. 21.