home Basketball, WNBL Fans first: how the WNBL is focussing on new initiatives to grow the fanbase

Fans first: how the WNBL is focussing on new initiatives to grow the fanbase

Siren intern Pyper Denneman speaks to head of the WNBL, Christy Collier-Hill about the growing focus on fan engagement in women’s hoops.

Christy Collier-Hill presents Cayla George with her WNBL 350 game frame this season. Image sourced: LinkedIn

In the heart of bustling arenas, where cheers echo like thunder and passion ignites, lies a world where dreams soar on the wings of determination and skill. This is where the hardwood court transforms into a stage for heroes, where every dribble and every swish of the net reverberates with the pulse of a nation’s pride.

Welcome to the electrifying realm of the Women’s National Basketball League, where the rhythm of the game is matched only by the fervour of its devoted fans. 

“A league full of world class, female athletes that are powerful, that are athletic, that are brilliant people and brilliant role models” head of WNBL Christy Collier-Hill says of the competition.

I caught up with Collier-Hill, who is not only the head of the WNBL, but a self-professed sports enthusiast, to learn more about how the league is working to put these amazing athletes on show and bring in new fans. As a reinvigorated fan myself, I was keen to hear her insights and focus on the fan experience that has been prevalent this season.

With a clear revamp and energy push, the WNBL presents itself as a ferocious competition which translates through the entire marketing of the season. “Being quite deliberate with brand choices, iterating a bright and bold brand campaign” is how Collier-Hill describes it. It has been obvious there is a big focus on athlete visibility and promoting the talent of the league.

Collier-Hill says it is important “to profile the next generations of stars and there are plenty of them”.

The league has made a concerted effort to expand the fan experience from all angles and now is the “start of a real significant growth phase” for the WNBL Collier-Hill says.

As the fanbase continues to flourish, the league is offering more than ever, to not only gain new fans but to engage them and keep them coming back for more. 

Getting fresh faces to games can be a challenge, however, the retention of fans in this space is also a focus, acknowledging and servicing the loyal fans who have always shown up. With the league having the highest quality gameplay, comparable to only the likes of the WNBA, which the WNBL is developing a significant and strong relationship with, now is the time for fans old and new, to get amongst the action.

“The beauty of basketball is, it’s a short game, and it’s indoors. And it lends itself to being a fantastic entertainment product.” Collier-Hill says and explained how a focus on the gameday experience and exciting activations are connecting to a broad fanbase.

These include a multitude of engaging fan experiences, with a notable one being the ability to get a photo and autograph with the home team at game conclusion—something that is unique to the WNBL across professional sporting codes in Australia.

Moving to the topic of social media, Collier-Hill acknowledges that this has been a season of “groundwork”, trying to grow a Tiktok and Instagram following that engages the fanbase.

This season there have been many initiatives including the new WNBL app and Aussie Hoops (Juniors program). In the midst of levelling up on socials, the WNBL have also placed a large focus on going “global” with their WNBA partnership allowing for WNBL games to be showcased internationally, showing in over 100 countries. It is safe to say that the market is at their fingertips and future moves will be quite strategic to continue this trajectory of fan growth. 

Thinking about the future of the fan experience, Collier-Hill revealed her ideas of mic’d up games (players or coaches), or TV covered locker room access. Something that she’d also be keen consume as a big fan herself.

“I would love to see them mic’d up for every game… It’s just great fan content” she said.

So maybe we could see a more intimate look at the WNBL in the coming seasons… we guess you will have to watch to find out! I know for sure I will be getting down to a bustling arena and perching myself up in the atmosphere of the WNBL finals action as this exciting season comes to its peak.

And I think the WNBL has also found a new lifelong fan!

The WNBL Finals tip off tonight, click here for where to watch.

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