ESPN2 and ESPNEWS Tip off WNBA Postseason with First and Second Rounds


ESPN2 and ESPNEWS Tip off WNBA Postseason with First and Second Rounds

Mary J. Blige’s Strength of a Woman to debut during the postseason

ESPN’s live presentation of every game of the WNBA Playoffs 2016 presented by Verizon will begin Wednesday, Sept. 21, with a first-round, single-elimination doubleheader on ESPNEWS. The Phoenix Mercury will visit the Indiana Fever in the first matchup at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the Seattle Storm visiting the Atlanta Dream at 8 p.m.  Commentator Pam Ward and analyst LaChina Robinson will call the early game, with play-by-play commentator Ryan Ruocco, analyst Rebecca Lobo and reporter Holly Rowe calling the second tilt.

The 20th edition of the WNBA Playoffs will be the debut of a new format implemented by the league that awards playoff spots to the eight teams with the highest winning percentages, regardless of conference, and seeded based on their record.  Additional changes to the playoff structure are as follows:

  • The number of playoff rounds increases from three to four.  The top two seeds receive a bye to the semifinals (third round), and the third and fourth seeds receive a bye to the second round.
  • Teams will be re-seeded after each postseason round.
  • The first and second rounds are single elimination.  In the first round, the No. 5 seed hosts the No. 8 seed and the No. 6 seed hosts the No. 7 seed.  In the second round, the No. 3 seed hosts the lowest-seeded first-round winner and the No. 4 seed hosts the other first-round winner.
  • The semifinals feature a best-of-five format, with the No. 1 overall seed playing the lowest remaining seed and the No. 2 overall seed meeting the remaining team.  The Nos. 1 and 2 seeds will host Games 1, 2 and 5, and the lower-seeded teams will host Games 3 and 4 in their respective series.  The WNBA Finals remain best-of-five and follow the same 2-2-1 format.

Production Enhancements

Every game of this year’s postseason will feature an open showcasing a new single by recording artist Mary J. Blige, Strength of a Woman. During the WNBA Finals, clips from Blige’s upcoming promotional music video for the song will be incorporated into teases during the telecasts. Additional highlights:

  • Coaches will be mic’d up during the first and second rounds and semifinals of the Playoffs, while coaches and select players will be mic’d up during The Finals.
  • WNBA Top [email protected] vignettes presented by Verizon, honoring the WNBA’s top 20 players over the last 20 years, will air during postseason games;
  • The 2017 WNBA Draft Lottery will air at halftime during ESPN2’s Playoffs coverage on Wednesday, Sept. 28. The Draft Lottery will be hosted by Matt Barrie from ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., headquarters.

espnW will supplement ESPN’s schedule with comprehensive live coverage and analysis throughout the WNBA postseason by Mechelle Voepel. Additional highlights:

  • Ian Begley of ESPN and contributor Pat Borzi will provide additional game coverage.
  • Playoff game video highlights along with previews, postgame video and analysis.
  • On-site coverage of Tamika Catchings’ final games; espnW will be on hand at every Indiana Fever game going forward.
  • Postgame analysis from ESPN’s analysts.


All telecasts will also be available through WatchESPN, available to subscribers across all major television providers in households nationwide. It is accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets and connected devices to fans who receive their video subscription from an affiliated provider.

Regular-Season Viewership Up from 2015

The WNBA on ESPN and ESPN2 closed out the regular season on a high, with an audience of 224,000 viewers (p2+), up 11% from last year and a 0.2 household rating.


Date Time (ET) Game / Commentators Network
Wed, Sep 21 6 p.m. First Round:
Phoenix Mercury at Indiana Fever
Pam Ward, LaChina Robinson
  8 p.m. First Round:
Seattle Storm at Atlanta Dream
Ryan Ruocco, Rebecca Lobo, Holly Rowe
Sat, Sep 24 7 p.m. Second Round:
TBD at New York Liberty
Sun, Sep 25 1 p.m. Second Round:
TBD at Chicago Sky
Ruocco, Lobo, Rowe
Wed, Sep 28 8 p.m. Semifinals, Game 1:
TBD at Minnesota Lynx
  10 p.m. Semifinals, Game 1:
TBD at Los Angeles Sparks
Fri, Sep 30 8 p.m. Semifinals, Game 2:
TBD at Minnesota Lynx
  10 p.m. Semifinals, Game2:
Los Angeles Sparks
Sun, Oct 2 3 p.m. Semifinals, Game 3 ESPN2
  5 p.m. Semifinals, Game 3 ESPN2
Tue, Oct 4 TBD Semifinals, Game 4* ESPN2
  TBD Semifinals, Game 4* ESPN2
Thu, Oct 6 TBD Semifinals, Game 5* ESPN2
  TBD Semifinals, Game 5* ESPN2

* If necessary

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Tara Chozet

I handle PR for ESPN Radio, espnW, technology, remote operations and soccer. I received my undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and my Master’s degree from the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.
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