Ten-year-old Chloe Adams is working on her game, something she takes seriously.
"Right now, I'm just working on like behind the back, between the legs, just the simple stuff," she said.
She got invited to play on the court smack dab in the middle of the WNBA Live Fan experience, a free event with sponsors, meet-and-greets and merchandise, surrounding the All-Star Game in her home town of Las Vegas.
Chloe has only been playing for a couple of years, but she says she gets her edge from her favorite WNBA player — Las Vegas Aces point guard and 2023 All-Star Jackie Young.
"We both like play the same and I follow her," Chloe said, "My mom will tell me she how she gets steady and then that's what I do."
WNBA fans like Chloe are making the experience possible, because the WNBA says more fans are tuning in and showing up.
ESPN announced this week that viewership of the WNBA games aired on its channel this season are up 46% compared to last year. Game attendance is up too.
"We're seeing a ton of different fan engagement across digital. In-person attendance has been up. We're up 26% year-on-year right now," said WNBA spokesperson Caiti Donovan.
With more eyes comes more interest from advertisers, and ones that you wouldn't typically associate with men's leagues. The year, the fan experience nearly doubled from eight partners last year to 15 this year, with booths from beauty and woman-owned brands. Earlier this year, WNBA team New York Liberty announced a brand partnership with Shady Grove Fertility Clinic.
"It's us looking at our partnerships through a different lens. We know that our fans are behaving differently compared to fans even at the NBA, even if they themselves are also fans in the NBA, they behave differently when they're watching our brand, when they're interacting with the WNBA," said Donovan.
While viewership numbers and brand deals are important, nothing can outshine the representation the WNBA brings to the sports world for women, and what that means to fans, who can see something in themselves reflected on the court.
"There's a lot of reasons to appreciate who these athletes are," said Phil Cook, chief marketing officer of the WNBA.
That's something Chloe can appreciate, because through was she sees on the WNBA court, she can see a possible future in basketball.
"I'm not really sure, but I know I'll still play it though," she said.
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