This year the WNBA kicked off their 20th season making drastic changes to their playoff format. Now, only the top eight teams make it in regardless of conference resulting in a more exciting product for viewers. League officials are thrilled to debut the new format calling it an “enhanced opportunity to showcase the best teams in the WNBA Finals.”
The change has made for a very close playoff race at the tail end of the season, with only three and a half games between 4th and 8th place in league standings. There are less than ten games left in the regular season, five available playoff spots, and seven teams with a legitimate shot of making it in. With just one game of breathing room between most seeds, playoff seating is far from finalized outside of the top three slots. The good news for the WNBA is that ESPN will air the entire 2016 playoffs. That will allow fans to follow all the teams that make it into the postseason under this year’s exciting new format. Here is a look at all of the playoff format changes:
-The playoffs were expanded from three rounds to four.
-The no.1 and no.2 seeds will receive a bye to the semifinal.
-The third and fourth seeded teams get a bye to the second round.
-The first and second rounds are single elimination.
-Teams will be reseeded after each round.
-The Semifinal and Final are a best of five, 2-2-1 format.
The changes made to the WNBA postseason is one way the league is trying to up attendance and gain new fans. Over the years the WNBA has increasingly lost momentum and viewership. Advertisements next to team logos on jerseys have become a requirement for the WNBA to stay in operation, unlike the NBA who is rumored to begin adding advertisements on logos for added revenue—not because men’s basketball is lacking any social or financial support. In order to regain relevancy and become a thriving league, the WNBA needed to shake things up. Adjusting the playoff format heightens the sense of urgency in the regular season and the level of competition in the postseason. Hopefully, the new way to play in the WNBA will help the league’s ratings jump.