Record-Breaking Viewership for NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship on ESPN and ABC

Published on 4/8/24 by Craig Smith

espn penn entertainment barstoolThe NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship, featuring a thrilling matchup between South Carolina Gamecocks and Iowa Hawkeyes, has set new viewership records, drawing a massive audience to ESPN and ABC.


The championship game, which saw Kamilla Cardoso’s South Carolina Gamecocks clinch the title over Caitlin Clark’s Iowa Hawkeyes, attracted an impressive 18.7 million viewers, according to preliminary figures. This number is anticipated to rise with the final Nielsen reports expected on Tuesday.


This year’s championship game viewership marks an 89% increase from the 2023 finals and a significant 285% surge from the 2022 championship, highlighting a growing interest in women’s collegiate basketball. At its peak, the game drew 24 million viewers, making it the most-watched basketball game, including both professional and college levels, since the 2019 Men’s NCAA Championship. Moreover, it stands as the most-watched sporting event, excluding football and the Olympics, across all networks since the 2019 World Series Game 7.


ESPN Chairman, Jimmy Pitaro, commented on the landmark achievement, “Sunday’s Iowa-South Carolina title game was a fitting finale to the most-viewed ever NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. 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.” Pitaro also expressed pride in the ESPN team’s efforts in presenting the historic event.


The record ratings come as ESPN announced a new eight-year agreement with the NCAA in January, securing media rights for 40 NCAA championships, including 21 women’s and 19 men’s events. This deal, which commences in September, also includes international rights to these championships and the Division I men’s basketball tournament.


This surge in viewership not only highlights the increasing popularity of women’s sports but also underscores the importance of media exposure in growing the game. With the new media rights agreement, ESPN continues to commit to providing broader coverage of NCAA events, potentially ushering in a new era for collegiate sports broadcasting.