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NCAA women's final garners its largest TV audience ever

Sunday's championship game had more average viewers than the World Series, Stanley Cup or NBA Finals, ESPN said.
NCAA women's final garners its largest TV audience ever
Posted at 7:19 AM, Apr 09, 2024

More than 18 million Americans tuned in to watch South Carolina defeat Iowa in Sunday's NCAA Women's Basketball championship game, according to preliminary numbers released by ESPN. 

ESPN said the estimated audience of 18.7 million television viewers on ABC marked the largest television audience for any basketball game, including men's, women's and NBA, since 2019. Besides the Olympics and football, it also got more viewers than any other sporting event in the last five years. 

ESPN noted that viewership was up 85% from last year's championship tilt between Iowa and LSU, and there were nearly four times the number of TV viewers than those who watched South Carolina win its previous title in 2022. 

At its peak, Sunday's game had 24 million viewers. 

SEE MORE: South Carolina beats Iowa 87-75 to win NCAA women's championship

Sunday was a battle between a team — South Carolina — seeking to become the first undefeated national champion since UConn in 2015-16 and an Iowa team that has the most transcendent star — Caitlin Clark — women's college basketball has ever seen. Despite a late rally by Iowa, South Carolina held off the Hawkeyes to win 87-75. 

Sunday's championship game was among many viewership records broken during the 2024 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. Last Friday's Final Four matchup between Iowa and UConn drew 14.2 million TV viewers, marking the largest TV audience for a women's college basketball game. 

It was also the most-watched basketball game ever aired by ESPN. 

In January, ESPN and the NCAA announced an eight-year agreement starting with the 2024-25 season to carry most NCAA championships, including women's basketball. 

"With a record-setting audience of 18.7 million viewers, Sunday's Iowa-South Carolina title game was a fitting finale to the most-viewed ever NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament," said ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro. "These exceptional athletes, coaches and teams captured our attention in unprecedented ways and it's incumbent on all of us to keep the incredible momentum going."

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