The NCAA women’s basketball tournament final between eventual champions LSU and runners-up Iowa has broken a 20-year record as 9.9 million people tuned in to ESPN to watch the dramatic final.
The game saw the LSU Tigers run out 102-85 victors over the Iowa Hawkeyes for Louisiana’s first-ever basketball title in college history.
Viewership figures for Friday’s NCAA final smashed the previous record for a women’s basketball final, which occurred in 2002 when 5.7 million people watched WNBA legend Sue Bird star as Connecticut beat Oklahoma.
The most-viewed women’s college basketball ever reached a peak audience of 12.6 million viewers according to ESPN, which was double of the peak viewership of last year’s final.
Furthermore, having also been broadcasted on ESPN’s streaming service, ESPN+, it became the most watched college sporting event on the streaming platform.
The 2023 final held in the American Airlines Centre in Dallas featured Iowa’s Caitlin Clark who drew considerable interest from the wider public for her performances, capped off with an impressive 41 point game in the Regional Finals.
The final also drew large interest due to Clark’s trash-talking in previous rounds, which LSU forward Angel Reese responded back with her own trash-talk to Clark as LSU closed in on the championship.
Monika Czinano, Iowa Center commented on the success of the NCAA Final: “This is the game we love and seeing it get the recognition it deserves is obviously super rewarding. It’s about time women’s basketball gets this kind of viewership, and it can only go up.
“It’s only going to get more exciting and more fun. The game is evolving in such a great way. I’m glad you’re tuning in now, but keep it up.”