Iowa vs UConn Sets Record as Most-Watched Women’s Basketball Game on ESPN

Iowa vs UConn Sets Record as Most-Watched Women's Basketball Game on ESPN

Iowa’s victory over UConn in the women’s Final Four notches a historic 14.2 million viewers on ESPN, becoming the most-viewed women’s basketball game and topping ESPN’s basketball broadcast records.

Iowa’s thrilling 71-69 win against UConn in the women’s Final Four on Friday night drew an average of 14.2 million viewers on ESPN, setting a new record for the most-watched women’s basketball game ever and achieving the highest viewership for any ESPN basketball telecast to date.

Iowa vs UConn Sets Record as Most-Watched Women's Basketball Game on ESPN

The game surpassed the previous record for a women’s basketball match, which was 12.3 million viewers for the Iowa-LSU Elite Eight matchup the preceding Monday. It even eclipsed ESPN’s prior record for basketball viewership, held by the 2018 Eastern Conference finals Game 7 between Cleveland and Boston, which attracted 13.51 million viewers.

This viewership milestone places the game as one of the most-watched sporting events outside of college football and the NFL in recent years. In comparison, the NCAA men’s championship game last year between San Diego State and UConn averaged 14.79 million viewers.

With audience numbers peaking at 17 million, this game is poised to rank among the top 50 primetime telecasts of 2024, where it would have been placed 32nd based on last year’s data. It also stands as ESPN’s second-largest audience for a non-football event, trailing only behind the United States vs. Portugal match during the 2014 men’s World Cup group stage, which attracted 18.22 million viewers.

The last NBA game to reach at least 14 million viewers was the Golden State Warriors’ championship win over Boston in Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals, drawing 14.22 million viewers.

Across ESPN and ABC, Caitlin Clark‘s five March Madness appearances have averaged 8.3 million viewers. Iowa is set to compete against South Carolina for the national championship in a game scheduled for Sunday afternoon on ABC.

The semifinal between South Carolina and North Carolina State, which South Carolina won 78-59, was watched by an average of 7.1 million viewers, making it the third most-watched women’s national semifinal game since records began in 1992. The record for a semifinal was previously held by the Stanford vs. Virginia match on CBS in 1992, attracting 8.1 million viewers.

The viewership for the two games on Friday averaged 10.8 million, marking a 138% increase from the previous year.

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