ESPN’s Women-Led NBA Broadcast Is ‘Business as Usual’

This Friday, ESPN will have an all-women led NBA broadcast to celebrate International Women’s Day. Beth Mowins, Monica McNutt, and Katie George will call the game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers. They’ll be supported by an entirely female production staff, led by ESPN producer Laurie Privitera.

This is the third year in a row that ESPN will be presenting an all-women NBA broadcast on International Women’s Day.

While McNutt said “there’s a moment where you sort of reflect—like, ‘Look at all these women in sports doing their thing,'” she also made clear that it’s still a “game as usual.”

“It’s definitely not unique at ESPN just because we have so many women in all of these positions on a regular basis,” Privitera said. “On any given night you’re going to look around our control room, you will see and hear the voices on our games and they are very female-driven.”

In fact, this will be the fifth time this season that ESPN has deployed an all-women’s team for an NBA game.

“I was part of an all-women broadcast team in Indiana last week,” said McNutt. “I think our company understands the importance of acknowledging and looking around not just on International Women’s Day, but just looking around and making sure the people that are creating content and serving a larger audience represent the folks who are watching.”

“Sports is a microcosm and a reflection of society, and unfortunately in society, there’s still a lot of things that women are fighting for,” McNutt added. “A day where you are intentional about stopping to acknowledge the contributions and voices in the space… it’s beneficial.”

According to Privitera, these broadcasts also act as an example to show “off to the younger generations that it’s not abnormal and you can move into these roles.”

Laurie Privitera [standing in headset] producing the 2023 broadcast

ESPN played a key role in the professional development of both McNutt and Privitera as youths.

“I grew up down the road from ESPN,” Privitera explained. She recounted watching the UConn Women’s National Championship run in 1995 on ESPN and “remembering there were female voices on that game,” which made it “the norm for me growing up as a kid to hear that.”

Now, Privitera has been at ESPN for over 18 years. She says the network was “never holding me back as a female and always providing opportunities. And that’s been since day one when I walked in on our Bristol campus.”

For McNutt, a former Division-1 college basketball player, seeing women on ESPN’s air showed her that she could pursue sports, too.

“There were so many women that I got a chance to watch,” McNutt recounted. “Doris Burke comes to top of mind, but I remember when [Disney Legend] Robin Roberts was still at [ESPN] doing WNBA and Hannah Storm was part of WNBA coverage… I would not miss a WNBA game. And so that was a huge part of my future professional aspiration.”

McNutt elaborated on the significance of Burke’s ascension to the NBA Finals broadcast team. “She deserves it,” McNutt said. “She just happens to be a woman, but she’s an excellent analyst. Showing that that commitment is real and not just on days dedicated to celebrating groups is something that ESPN has done well and folks who work for the company can be proud of.”

On International Women’s Day, 175 women will contribute to ESPN’s NBA coverage. Throughout the afternoon the names of all of those women will be highlighted on various ESPN broadcasts “to really show them off and honor them,” said Privitera.

During the match-up between the Timberwolves and Cavaliers, Privitera said to expect that the crew will “go about our business still covering the game, but have a nice, subtle way to honor the day.”

“I just really hope we get a good game,” McNutt said of the contest. “A lot of teams are 20 game or less down the stretch of the season, so these games matter.”

“Getting the teams in the match-up we’re getting, for me, seemed like this great gift to show off what we do,” Privitera said. “When you show up and both teams in the last week are sitting in the two seed, that’s what we get excited about for these games. That should be competitive and a great game.”

With a consequential game to bring to audiences, “Friday will be a celebration of women that have been putting years into their craft, whether you’ve seen it or not,” McNutt explained. “I don’t want to call it a really dope professional development day, but it’s a dope day! But it’s a day. It’s business as usual.”

“I’ve always wanted it to really just become the norm and not necessarily something that we have to always celebrate just because it’s every day for us,” Privitera said. “I just want to see it continue to see people get opportunities and to see all the women succeed in positions. That for me is the ultimate sort of prize at the end.”