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March Madness: South Carolina’s championship win over Caitlin Clark, Iowa drew record 18.7 million viewers

In Sports
April 09, 2024

For the third straight time, Caitlin Clark and Iowa set a new viewership record.

South Carolina’s win over Clark and the Hawkeyes in the national championship game on Sunday set a new record with 18.7 million viewers and became the most-viewed women’s basketball game of all time. The broadcast peaked at 24 million viewers, and it was the most-watched basketball game since 2019.

Clark and the Hawkeyes broke several viewership records throughout the tournament before the championship game on Sunday. Their win over LSU in the Elite Eight was the most-watched women’s college basketball game ever. That battle, which was a rematch of LSU’s win over Iowa in last year’s national championship game, averaged more than 12.3 million viewers and peaked at just more than 16.1 million viewers. The previous mark was last year’s title game, which hit just shy of 10 million viewers.

Then on Friday night, Iowa’s win over UConn in the Final Four broke that record again. That game drew 14.2 million viewers and peaked at about 17 million, and was also ESPN’s most-viewed basketball game of any kind. The game surpassed viewership numbers from every NBA Finals and World Series game last season, every round from the Masters since 2013 and all but five college football games last season. South Carolina’s win over NC State in the Final Four drew just more than 7 million viewers.

South Carolina beat Caitlin Clark and Iowa 87-75 on Sunday to win its third national championship under head coach Dawn Staley.

South Carolina beat Caitlin Clark and Iowa 87-75 on Sunday to win its third national championship under head coach Dawn Staley. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

The championship game on Sunday was then moved from ESPN to ABC, which undoubtedly helped the record viewership.

The Gamecocks pulled ahead late and took an 87-75 win over Clark and the Hawkeyes at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland on Sunday. It marked the third national title for South Carolina in program history. The Gamecocks are now the first undefeated national champion since 2016 and just the 10th team to pull that off in history. They’ve lost just one game in the last two years.

Clark, who broke countless records this past season while leading the Hawkeyes to a second straight championship game appearance, is widely expected to be selected No. 1 overall in the WNBA Draft next week. South Carolina star Kamilla Cardoso has also declared for the draft, and she’s projected to be a top-five pick.

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