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LSU-Iowa game garners largest NCAA women's basketball TV audience ever

While the men's tournament has seen a slight bump in the TV audience, the women are enjoying unprecedented ratings.
LSU-Iowa game garners largest NCAA women's basketball TV audience ever
Posted at 8:12 AM, Apr 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-03 11:48:10-04

In the highly anticipated rematch of last year's championship game, Monday's Elite Eight battle between LSU and Iowa was the most-watched women's college basketball game on TV ever, ESPN said

According to the network, 12.3 million people tuned in to watch the game that featured LSU star Angel Reese going up against Iowa phenom Caitlin Clark. At its peak, it garnered 16.1 million viewers. 

ESPN said that it also marked the network's most-watched basketball game since 2012. 

The LSU-Iowa game was not the only one getting big ratings for ESPN. The network said this year's Elite Eight games garnered four of the five largest television audiences ever for the round. 

Monday's late matchup between UConn and Southern California, which followed LSU-Iowa, had an audience of 6.7 million. On Sunday, a matchup between Oregon State and South Carolina had 3.1 million viewers, while the N.C. State vs. Texas game had 2.5 million viewers. 

This year's Final Four will have Iowa vs. UConn and N.C. State against South Carolina. 

"You got four great programs coming to the Final Four," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder told reporters on Tuesday. "I think there was a lot of attention on both games last night, but certainly there was a lot of attention on our game just because it was a rematch of the national championship last year.

"Again, we didn't look at it like that, but a lot of people outside of our program did. So I'm sure the viewership was high. I think everybody that was here in the arena seemed to have a really good time and enjoyed the game. Anytime that we have the chance to elevate women's basketball and to showcase just how great our game is, we're going to take full advantage of that."

SEE MORE: LSU's Angel Reese: 'I've been sexualized, I've been threatened'

Television viewership was also up for the men's Elite Eight, the NCAA said. Sunday's matchup between Duke and N.C. State had over 15 million viewers, marking the largest television audience for an Elite Eight game in five years. 

The NCAA said men's March Madness games have averaged 9.4 million viewers across CBS, TNT, TBS and TruTV, which is up 4% from a year ago. 

Although the men's game showed some growth this year, Bluder believes there is a reason the women's game is catching up in terms of popularity. 

"I think the rise has happened largely due to we're getting more media coverage," Bluder said. "I mean, when nobody knows about you, it's hard to get fan support, it's hard to get enthusiasm behind your program. But because we are on national television now, because we are in the spotlight more as a sport, as women's basketball, people are talking about it. People are recognizing how good of a game it is. People get to know these stars.

"In the men's game, they're there for one year and then they leave, the best players. In the women's game, they're staying for four years. I think that's really good for them because they can really develop their brand, but it's also good for our sport because the best players are still around as seniors and not playing in the league right away."


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