Iowa Hawkeyes versus the UConn Huskies Apr 5, 2024; Cleveland, OH, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark (22) controls the ball against Connecticut Huskies guard Paige Bueckers (5) in the fourth quarter in the semifinals of the Final Four of the womens 2024 NCAA Tournament at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Friday’s Final Four matchup between the UConn Huskies and the Iowa Hawkeyes lived up to every bit of the hype it had on the court. And luckily for ESPN, the viewership numbers followed suit in a massive way, becoming the new most-watched women’s college basketball game ever.

On paper, it sure seemed like it may be difficult for this game to top the Elite Eight matchup between Iowa and LSU in terms of viewership.

On one side of that game, you had the defending National Champions in LSU with some prominent stars on their team like Angel Reese and Hailey Van Lith. On the other, you had the biggest star in the sport in Caitlin Clark, who of course famously lost to LSU in last year’s title game.

That game delivered what was the previous high for a women’s college basketball game with 12.3 million viewers, a truly historic mark for not only just women’s college basketball but women’s sports as a whole.

Things got even better for the women’s sports landscape on Friday, delivering a whopping 14.2 million viewers with a peak of 17 million viewers. It also became the most-watched basketball game in the history of ESPN networks, and the second most-watched non-football telecast ever.

These numbers are further proof that women’s college basketball is no longer just a sport watched by a niche audience.

The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch did an excellent job of putting just how impressive these numbers truly are, comparing quite favorably to many of the four major professional sports in the U.S.


UConn led by the great Geno Auriemma has always been a powerhouse in the sport, which certainly doesn’t hurt matters when it comes to the ratings.

However, it’s hard to argue that Caitlin Clark was very clearly the driving force of these viewership numbers. This certainly begs the question, can viewership numbers get even better for the National Championship between Iowa and South Carolina?

Only time will tell. But there are a few storylines that could actually benefit matters in terms of viewership.

South Carolina is undefeated on the year with a 37-0 record. So naturally, everyone will want to see if Iowa and Caitlin Clark can take them down. This is also the first time that Iowa has been underdogs in the tournament thus far, currently sitting as 6.5 point underdogs to the Gamecocks on the majority of sportsbooks.

Everyone loves a good underdog to root for. And Caitlin Clark and the rest of the Iowa team already have quite the following. So don’t be surprised to see this game reach even better heights for ESPN.


About Reice Shipley

Reice Shipley is a staff writer for Comeback Media that graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Sports Media. He previously worked at Barrett Sports Media and is a fan of all things Syracuse sports.