Amazon Prime Video is hoping its live coverage of the WNBA’s Commissioner’s Cup Championship game tonight (July 26) continues to build on the streaming service’s appeal to sports fans through quality, live sports content, according to Amazon VP of global sports video Marie Donoghue.
The Commissioner’s Cup, an in-season tournament that matches the two WNBA teams with the best record based on percentage of games designated for Cup play in each conference, debuted last year with the Seattle Storm defeating the Connecticut Sun. This season’s matchup pits defending WNBA champion Chicago Sky against the Las Vegas Aces. The winning team receives a $500,000 prize, according to the league.
Donoghue said last year’s inaugural event drew strong viewership for the streaming service, although she would not reveal specific numbers. She said the exclusive rights to the game came out of Prime Video’s multi-year deal with the league to air 16 WNBA games per season reached in 2021.
“We thought it was an awesome opportunity for us to serve our fans with the Commissioner's Cup,” said Donoghue told Multichannel News. “We were pleased with last year’s viewership — we generated a lot of positive feedback from viewers. We’re especially excited to have it come back for the second year.”
Donoghue said Prime is working with the YES Network — the two have already teamed to exclusively stream 21 New York Yankees games this season — to stream the Commissioner's Cup championship game. YES Network on-air talent Sarah Kustok and Michael Grady will serve as analyst and play-by-play announcer for the event.
Also serving on the Commissioner's Cup broadcast team is former WNBA All-star Dawn Staley, who said the game provides a major boost to the WNBA. “I think the Commissioner’s Cup … makes regular-season games meaningful,” said Staley, the head women’s basketball coach for South Carolina, the NCAA champions. “If you're really good, it affords you an opportunity to win two championships.”
Donoghue said the game along with Prime Video’s remaining WNBA telecasts helps the streaming service take sports fans into the late summer and its exclusive NFL Thursday Night Football package.
“We're really, really excited to launch the Thursday Night Football package with our preseason games in August, and then our first regular season on September 15,” she said. “It's a massive investment for us, and we’ve based it on our track record working with the NFL over the last several years.” ▪️
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R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.