The WNBA has reported record-high numbers in viewership since the season started roughly one month ago, yet the league is still expected to lose an estimated $50 million by the end of the season.

A recent report by the WNBA states that viewership for the entire league has increased significantly since last season, with more than 1.3 million tuning in on average for each game. This increased viewership coincided with WNBA arenas filling up to 94% capacity during games, a 17% increase from the first month of last season.

Despite this increased viewership, the WNBA is still expected to lose roughly $50 million by the season’s end, according to The Washington Post.

One WNBA executive who spoke with The Washington Post said that the league “would be hard-pressed to exist without the NBA” due to additional investments that the women’s league has received from its male counterpart.

Although future revenue is expected to rise, the WNBA is currently only able to distribute about 40% to teams and players. In comparison, the NBA is able to distribute all of the revenue to its players and teams, per NBC News.

This discrepancy is due to an NBA investment in the WNBA from 1996, which required the NBA to receive 40% of all WNBA revenue, along with outside investors also receiving a significant share of the league’s revenue, per The Washington Post.

In the past, the NBA has lost money in order to help keep the WNBA afloat, meaning that the league is just now beginning to see a return on its initial investment from nearly 30 years ago.

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said it is a “huge advantage” for the league to be working in unison with the NBA, noting that the two leagues can show content for nearly the entire year.

“Especially with streaming services who rely on a 12-month subscription model. If we’re only there for 4½ months … how attractive is that? But we and the NBA are maybe the only sports properties that can give 330 days of live programming — almost the entire year. That’s hugely valuable to a subscription platform,” she said, per The Washington Post.

Although the WNBA is on track to lose money in the 2024 season, there is still reason to be excited about the league’s future.

Along with increased viewership, which is expected to continue rising in the coming years, the WNBA will add multiple expansion teams that will pay fees to join the league and generate revenue once officially inducted, per The Washington Post.

Engelbert said she would like the league to have 16 teams, up from the 12 teams currently playing ball.

The owner of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, Joe Lacob, recently paid $50 million to secure an expansion team in the Bay Area. Teams are also expected to be added in Toronto and potentially in Portland, per The Washington Post.