The WNBA is celebrating its 25th season, continuing strong strides as the longest-running women's professional sports league. The league has entered into a multi-year agreement with Amazon Prime Video on 12th May 2021 for exclusive global streaming rights to 16 WNBA games per season, in addition to the Commissioner's Cup Game. Amazon Prime members in India will be able to live-stream select WNBA games in this 2nd half of the season as the playoff race tightens up.
As a longtime fan of the NBA, I've never got around to watching WNBA games. A couple of decades ago, NBA fans were starving to watch games in India, with TV networks showing around two games a week along with a half-hour highlight of NBA action. The Internet had penetrated homes tentatively through dial-up connections, although not fast enough to even load a video at 240p in places. For context, the internet speed in most parts of India was as fast as Shaq playing in the 7-seconds or less offense during his later Phoenix Suns years.
My introduction to the WNBA was similar to my introduction to the NBA, through the NBA Live video game series, Live 19 in this case. The women's game, even in a video game, felt more like a simulator than an arcade game. And now, the NBA 2k22 edition is also set to ramp up The W in its next iteration set to release on 10th September.
Having the WNBA on Amazon Prime makes it as easy as ever for India to tune into games of the greatest women's basketball league in the world. Here are 5 ways how Amazon Prime Video is making it more accessible to watch the WNBA in India.
Fan acquisition is at the heart of every sports league's growth. Having the WNBA on Prime Video opens up a new platform for fans to discover the league. We often stumble upon interesting content on streaming services. With shows or movies that we may not have heard of pulling us into a binge-watching frenzy.
Here are some ways fans can discover the WNBA on Prime Video in India
Searching for the 'NBA' results in a ton of sports-related titles, however, the WNBA games aren't among them yet. A 'WNBA' search directly shows the available games.
Those searching for 'basketball' will easily stumble upon the WNBA as you can see.
A generic search for 'sports' will require a very deep dive (about 98 titles down) to find the WNBA on Amazon Prime.
Amazon Prime has over 200 million subscribers in India. It is the most affordable of the big three streaming services in India, costing ₹999 annually, less than Netflix or Disney+ on Hotstar, and the only one that provides streaming as a complimentary benefit along with its core offering of e-commerce.
As a potential customer base is already subscribed to the streaming service, it'll be easier for basketball fans in India to tune into the WNBA games and for new fans to try a taste of this new league on Prime Video.
3. Smart TVs
The NBA App is compatible with a whole host of devices, including Android app, iOS app, Amazon Fire Stick, Amazon Fire TV, and more. The Amazon Prime app brings in one additional device, the largest of them all- smart TVs. Access to the NBA app is limited on some smart TVs. For me to watch the NBA on an LG TV, I need to either connect a laptop as a secondary display or cast the screen from a mobile device onto it.
Not so with the Prime Video app. Besides coming pre-installed with some TVs, if not most, some TVs also have the Prime Video app shortcut as a button on the remote. Not as a shortcut key leading to the app, it is a dedicated button with the Prime Video logo on it.
4. Quicker to try
When you are new to something, you need to absorb it bit by bit to get a hang of it. One of the reasons basketball courts were used to play cricket at my college was because hoops seemed to be too complicated. It takes a bit more time to learn how to dribble a ball so it does not get away from you all over the place. Shooting requires a steep arc and has a steeper learning curve than hitting a ball with a bat or kicking a football.
This is by no means downplaying the level of skill that goes into cricket or football, each has layers upon layers of techniques to learn and apply. Just to say that they have an easier learning curve for a first-timer to pick up and play. The same can be said of Amazon Prime Video and the NBA app in a way.
Using the NBA app would require installation and subscription. For the existing 200 million Amazon Prime subscribers, it would only require the installation of the Prime Video app if they don't have it yet. For the millions of Prime Video users, it's a quick move to browse and select a WNBA game to see what it's all about.
As we live in a time of instant gratification and snackable content, the speed with which a new audience can experience a product can sometimes be the difference between discovery and ignorance of it.
5. WNBA at 60fps on Amazon Prime Video!
The WNBA is faster than the NBA on streaming in India.Chrome extension displaying fps of video + eye-test.
This is my favorite perk of all, in part because of the irony. Naysayers looking to dismiss women's professional basketball have always pointed to how it is slower compared to the men's game. Hoops have their own flavor at different speeds, and the WNBA has its own appeal as we'll discover. But one of the perks of the WNBA on Prime Video is the playback is at 60fps, which makes it faster than the NBA games on League Pass in India.
We are used to watching movies at 24 frames per second, as that used to be the industry standard for shooting videos, and it still makes for a more cinematic experience. But the action of sports hits way harder at 60fps. The flight of the ball is smoother, the crossovers are crisper, the game appears to flow like water.
Here's a comparison of 24 vs 60fps-
The WNBA is much bigger than the on-court product. Its athletes have been at the forefront of social change and they can help empower girls around the world with a vision of what's possible. Stay tuned for more as we discover more of the WNBA together in India.
Check out the WNBA games on Prime Video here.