The ABL Goes One-on-One with the WNBA
After reviewing the ABL, we found that Cavalli and the other founders may have rushed into forming an organization without fully understanding the market. The general environmental analysis would seem to be very favorable for a successful women’s basketball league. The league was formed during a very exciting time following the hype created by the United States Women’s Olympic team of 1996. The general feeling of the public was morphing as they became more aware of the excitement and entertainment of women’s sports. Demographically, professional women’s basketball leagues were all based overseas and after realizing these overseas leagues were able to sustain themselves and turn a profit, the founders of the ABL hoped they could create something similar in the United States while giving women the opportunity to play professionally in their own country. In 1972, Title IX was passed, which prohibited gender discrimination in high school and college athletics. It was Cavalli’s intentions to carry this movement to the professional level.
The industry the ABL was entering was a market that had been tried before. There had been professional women’s basketball leagues formed in the United States in the past. The most enduring of those leagues lasted for three years and it’s most profitable team lost $718,000. There had been leagues try to form in the United States before the ABL, but none were successful. The ABL was hoping to profit off the recent success of United States women’s basketball teams on the global stage. In looking at Porter’s five forces model, the ABL looked very secure. They thought the threat of potential entrants was minimal because nobody had a plan for forming another league. Their suppliers had very little bargaining power because they used small college facilities and were planning on having very little media exposure during the beginning. There weren’t any substitute products and there was...
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