With the Connecticut Huskies continuing to plow through women’s basketball and winning four consecutive NCAA Championships, ESPN’s ratings for the final have suffered.
This year’s championship game between UConn and Syracuse in which the Huskies won 82-51 averaged a 1.9 rating and 3.0 million viewers, down last year’s UConn-Notre Dame final which received a 2.0/3.1 million. And this year’s game is the lowest-rated and least-watched since 2009 when UConn beat Louisville (1.8/2.7 million).
As Sports Media Watch points out, this year’s game ranks as one of the lowest-ranked for ESPN since it started airing the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship:
Since ESPN began airing the national championship in 1996, only twice has it attracted fewer viewers — the aforementioned 2009 game and Tennessee/Rutgers in 2007 (2.9M).
SMW says UConn has been in four of the five least-watched women’s final games (three of which have been in this current run of four straight titles), but on the other hand the Huskies have also been in four of the six most-watched.
In the Final Four, ESPN did see an increase for UConn-Oregon State which had 2.3 million viewers, up from 2.0 million for last year’s Notre Dame-North Carolina which aired in the same window.
Syracuse-Washington which aired on ESPN2 due to Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN had a final rating of 1.0 and 1.6 million viewership, down last year’s UConn-Maryland (1.5/2.4 million). It’s the lowest-rated Women’s Final Four game, but no game has aired on ESPN2 prior to this year.
So while UConn annihilation of the tournament field is making history in women’s basketball, it’s also turning off viewers who are most likely tiring of seeing the blowouts.