Andraya Carter Credit: First Take on X

It’s not just Caitlin Clark game viewership that is trending upward. ESPN basketball analyst Andraya Carter is a fixture of the network’s women’s college hoops coverage and has been pleasantly surprised at the buy-in on the sport from the worldwide leader across all its programming this spring.

Discussing the interest from ESPN studio shows in this year’s NCAA women’s tournament in an interview on the Sports Media with Richard Deitsch podcast released Thursday, Carter explained how she has seen the interest from fans in women’s basketball translate into interest from ESPN producers.

Carter believes there is “a ton” of buy-in in Bristol right now, and fans are eating it up.

“There’s definitely buy-in, and now that the conversations we’re having on First Take and Get Up, they’re getting attention once they are put out there on social media, people are adding into the conversation and giving their opinions,” Carter said. “So for the coordinating producers on those shows to see women’s college basketball being a hot topic and people wanting to talk about it and wanting to jump in the conversation after the show is over, that’s a good sign.”

Carter pointed to a viral moment featuring the legendary Samuel L. Jackson on Twitter chiming in on her debate with Stephen A. Smith over Caitlin Clark’s legacy as just one example.

Still, Carter understands this could be just the beginning, rather than a blip resulting from Clark’s fame. Clark highlighted how ESPN’s women’s College GameDay went from two shows in 2022 to five shows this year. ESPN goes where the eyeballs and dollars are.

“Everything is a slow build,” Carter said.

On Sports Center this week, host Zubin Mehenti ceded the floor to Carter and Rebecca Lobo for two segments to break down LSU’s offense and more trends from around the tourney.

More from Carter on Sports Media with Richard Deitsch:

“It’s not logical to expect a big jump in everything. We’re not going to all of a sudden have women’s college basketball on Get Up every single day, or on First Take every single day. But with the tournament going so well and there being so many stars and there being so many conversations again that people want to have, this going really well — and I try to put a little bit of pressure on myself to perform in that way when I have the opportunity to do so and do a good job explaining my thoughts on these players and the game to draw more people in — at the end of the season, who knows.

Maybe next year, if there’s a non-conference matchup that has two exciting players and a little bit of spiciness involved in the matchup, maybe First Take and Get Up reach out about that one. Maybe we have little segments before the tournament starts, because now people are locked in on these superstars. And they’re locked in on what they’re doing and how they’re performing and how they’re playing.

So I think the better it goes in this tournament, maybe who knows, we see it earlier in the year. And if we see it earlier in the year, maybe we have a segment the next summer because a transfer happens and they want me to come on and talk about that transfer. It’s a slow build, but right now, Get Up and First Take and SportsCenter, they’ve been really bought in.”

It certainly helps ESPN to have a budding talent like Carter who can hold her own on First Take or bring the requisite energy to Get Up.

And it certainly helps the sport that beyond Clark, future stars like JuJu Watkins and Hannah Hidalgo represent a future for the sport at the highest levels that can sometimes be hard to find in other sports.

[Sports Media with Richard Deitsch]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.