The NCAA women’s championship game is being dissected for all the wrong reasons yet competitors from both sides can be proud after participating in what was the most-watched women’s basketball game in NCAA history.
According to Nielsen numbers (H/T ESPN), the contest drew 9.9 million viewers across ABC and ESPN2 and peaked at 12.6 million, marking a 103 percent increase from last year. The 2023 national championship game was played between LSU and Iowa, with the former winning 102-85. The previous final, between UConn and South Carolina, averaged 4.85 million viewers.
LSU’s first women’s basketball title was the first to air on network television since UConn’s defeat of Tennessee in 1995, which aired on CBS and averaged 7.4 million viewers.
The rights for the entire tournament went to ESPN the following year.
The last network high for a women’s national championship game was way back in 2002, when UConn defeated Oklahoma.
As pointed out by Front Office Sports, Sunday’s fixture brought in more viewers than any game in MLS history, any Stanley Cup games since 1973, the 2023 Orange and Sugar Bowls, the 2020 World Series, the 2021 NBA Finals, and all of the most recent games and All-Star games from the MLB, NBA, and NFL.
This achievement comes at an interesting time for the NCAA as they’re deciding over keeping the women’s tournament as part of a championships television package featuring at least 24 sports or separating it.
That contract runs out in 2024, with the NCAA to decide what it wants to do by fall.WANT MORE FROM TOTALPROSPORTS? FOLLOW US ON GOOGLE NEWS.