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Women’s NCAA Final Shatters Viewership Records

In a groundbreaking shift for collegiate sports, the women’s NCAA championship game not only scored on the court but in viewership numbers, outpacing the men’s final for the first time ever. Here’s the lowdown on how South Carolina’s triumph over Iowa made television history.


  • Historic Viewership: Women’s NCAA championship game surpasses men’s final in viewership.
  • Rising Tide: Increased exposure and quality of play contribute to audience growth.
  • Future Stars: Fresh talent and network coverage promise continued growth for women’s basketball.

Gamecocks Fly High in Ratings

The women’s title game, featuring South Carolina’s victory, drew an impressive 18.9 million viewers across ABC and ESPN. In contrast, the men’s final between UConn and Purdue pulled in 14.82 million viewers on TBS and TNT. These aren’t just numbers; they’re a testament to the growing appeal of women’s sports.

The Final Push

During the last quarter, the viewership for the women’s game peaked at a staggering 24.1 million, second only to the 2015 Fifa Women’s World Cup final in non-Olympic women’s sports viewership in the US. This surge reflects a seismic shift in audience interest and engagement.

A Rising Tide in Women’s Sports

The surge in viewership isn’t a solo act by Iowa or its standout player Caitlin Clark. As UCLA coach Cori Close put it:

“You’re seeing the growth in many places: attendance records, viewership, and social media engagement surrounding March Madness.”

The Numbers Game

Nielsen’s data, now accounting for out-of-home viewership, shows a 90% increase over last year’s title game viewership. The growth is a whopping 289% over the Gamecocks’ last title win. Former CBS Sports president Neal Pilson captured the sentiment, saying, “This year, it was appointment television.”

Impact Beyond Basketball

Caitlin Clark noted the ripple effect of basketball’s popularity on other women’s sports, from softball to gymnastics. The audience isn’t just there for basketball; they’re tuning in for women’s sports across the board.

Can the Momentum Continue?

With Clark heading to the WNBA, questions arise about maintaining this viewership momentum. However, a new wave of talent, like JuJu Watkins, Hannah Hidalgo, and Madison Booker, is ready to take the stage and keep the audience captivated.

Network Support Boosts Visibility

Increased network television coverage has been a game-changer. With Fox, NBC, CBS, and ABC airing more women’s games, including prime-time slots, the stage is set for continued growth. The upcoming Women’s Champions Classic is a prime example of this increased exposure.

The Promotional Playbook

Learning from the promotional successes of the NBA and NFL, women’s basketball has begun to shine a spotlight on its stars, making the game faster, more competitive, and more engaging for viewers.

The Big Picture

The championship game’s return to network television has been a boon. Pilson believes this isn’t a one-off spike but a sign of sustained improvement in ratings and exposure for women’s basketball.

Latching Onto the Next Star

Iowa coach Lisa Bluder summed it up perfectly:

“Caitlin has certainly been a tremendous star for our game, but there are so many stars in our game. So we’re just going to latch onto that next one next year.”

The game is good, and now that it’s got the spotlight it deserves, fans won’t want to miss what’s next. Women’s basketball isn’t just winning; it’s setting the pace for women’s sports everywhere.

#WomensBasketball #NCAAFinal 🏀

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