The women’s college basketball season is winding down with conference tournaments this week, but the Big Ten Network and ESPN are touting impressive regular season averages.
On Tuesday, ESPN announced that the 83 games airing on ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU this season averaged 199,000 viewers, the best regular season average for ESPN networks since the 2014-15 season and an increase of 11% from last season.
The 2022-23 #NCAAWBB regular season delivered across ESPN platforms
? Most-viewed regular season in nearly a decade
? 2 billion minutes viewed, the most on record
? Up double digits year-over-year pic.twitter.com/aRqMgXYIhv
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) March 7, 2023
In February, ESPN’s broadcast of South Carolina-LSU averaged 1.5 million viewers, the most-watched regular season women’s college basketball game since 2010.
Not to be outdone, the Big Ten Network announced viewership hit a record this season (though it didn’t announce the specific average), up 19% from last season’s average.
Another record year for @B1Gwbball.
? Iowa vs. Maryland sets new WBB ? record
? Most-watched #B1GWBBT in BTN History
? Top WBB regular season viewership in BTN History
?: https://t.co/1NRJYhRoo3 pic.twitter.com/HHY5UYUFPL
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) March 7, 2023
BTN also notes that Iowa-Maryland in the Big Ten Tournament this past Saturday averaged 380,000 viewers, the network’s most-watched women’s basketball game ever.
Fox also drew a record audience this year, with their broadcast of South Carolina-UConn averaging 1.087 million viewers. Taking place a week before that South Carolina-LSU game, it was then the most-watched regular season women’s college basketball game since 2017. Full season data for Fox was not immediately available.
Heading into the women’s NCAA tournament next week, ESPN seems primed for a successful month of action. More viewers watching will only increase the calls for the NCAA to unbundle its championship events, take them to the open market, and let networks decide how much those events, including the women’s tournament, should be worth.