Caitlin Clark Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) attempts a 3-pointer during an NCAA tournament first round game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, March 23, 2024, in Iowa City.

You’ll be stunned to learn Caitlin Clark and Iowa smashed another viewership record for women’s college basketball.

The Hawkeyes’ win over Holy Cross in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Tournament on Saturday averaged 3.23 million viewers on ABC, the most-watched tournament game in the rounds before the Final Four.

The game went head-to-head with Gonzaga-Kansas on CBS in the men’s tournament, which brought in 8.28 million viewers.

The record viewership for a pre-Final Four game came last year for Iowa’s win over Louisville in the Elite Eight, which averaged 2.5 million viewers.

The previous first-round high for an NCAA Women’s Tournament game came in 2022 for UConn’s win over Mercer, which averaged just 767,000 viewers. A second game this year, UConn-Jackson State Saturday on ABC, also topped that mark, averaging 1.08 million viewers.

First-round action on Friday was lower across the board, thanks in part to no games airing on ABC. LSU’s win over Rice led the way with 762,000 viewers on ESPN, followed by Iowa State’s win over Maryland on ESPN2 with 642,000.

Data was not immediately available for Monday’s second round, which featured Caitlin Clark and Iowa in primetime on ESPN against West Virginia. On Sunday, LSU’s win over Middle Tennesee averaged 2.01 million viewers on ABC, currently ranking as the most-watched second-round game ever.

While full viewership data for the first two rounds and comparisons to a year ago aren’t available yet, it does seem like this year’s NCAA Women’s Tournament is poised to smash last year’s record-setting tournament.

[Data via Sports Media Watch]

About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.