Basketball-Record 18.7 million watch Iowa-South Carolina women’s championship

By Thomson Reuters Apr 8, 2024 | 5:22 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The NCAA women’s championship clash between Iowa and South Carolina was watched by 18.7 million viewers on Sunday – a record for a women’s college basketball game, ESPN said.

It peaked at 24 million viewers on ABC and ESPN, the sports broadcaster said, and was the most-watched basketball game across men’s, women’s, college or professional sport since 2019.

The figure beats the 12.3 million who tuned in for Caitlin Clark and her Iowa Hawkeyes’ revenge game against LSU earlier in the tournament and their Final Four match against rivals University of Connecticut last week, which drew 14.2 million.

Clark has electrified fans in her final season with Iowa, as she broke Pete Maravich’s all-time scoring record in college basketball, and is widely expected to go first overall in the WNBA Draft next week.

She was denied the final jewel in her crown against coach Dawn Staley’s formidable South Carolina team, as the Hawkeyes lost 87-75 in the title game.

“Sunday’s Iowa-South Carolina title game was a fitting finale to the most-viewed ever NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament,” ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement.

“These exceptional athletes, coaches and teams captured our attention in unprecedented ways.”

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing by Ken Ferris)