March Madness: Iowa’s win over South Carolina drew 5.5 million viewers in the most-watched semifinal on ESPN

The women’s Final Four set several records on Friday night.

Both games at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas averaged 4.5 million viewers, which was up about 66% from last year, ESPN announced on Saturday afternoon. That made them the two most-viewed college basketball games ever on the network.

By comparison, last year’s Final Four games averaged about 2.6 million viewers.

Iowa’s upset win over South Carolina drew 5.5 million viewers, which is up about 72% from 2022. It marked the most-viewed semifinal in ESPN history, and was the third most-viewed women’s college basketball game ever on the network. The game peaked at about 6.6 million viewers.

LSU’s win over Virginia Tech drew 3.4 million viewers, which is up about 57% from last year. It set a new record for the most-viewed early semifinal game on ESPN, and peaked with about 5 million viewers.

LSU mounted a wild fourth-quarter run to beat Virginia Tech in their Final Four matchup on Friday to reach the championship game for the first time in school history. Star Angel Reese recorded her 33rd double-double of the season, which matched the most in Division 1 history.

Iowa star Caitlin Clark

Both women’s Final Four games averaged 4.5 million viewers on ESPN on Friday night, and Iowa’s win over South Carolina was the most-watched semifinal game in ESPN history. (Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Iowa, behind National Player of the Year Caitlin Clark, handed South Carolina its first loss in more than a year in the late game on Friday. Clark dropped 41 points on Aliyah Boston and the Gamecocks, which put the Hawkeyes in the national championship game for the first time.

The two schools will square off on Sunday afternoon on ABC. While it’s unclear how many people will tune in, it’s a pretty safe bet that the game will break last year’s mark of 4.85 million viewers.

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