Apr 3, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley and the South Carolina Gamecocks celebrate their 64-49 victory over the UConn Huskies in the Final Four championship game of the women’s college basketball NCAA Tournament at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina’s 64-49 win over UConn on Sunday night in the National Championship of the NCAA Women’s Tournament drew a strong audience for ESPN.

Per the company, the game drew 4.85 million viewers on Sunday evening across all networks, the most-watched Championship Game of the Women’s Tournament since 2004.

On cable, 4.465 million watched on ESPN, and another 218,000 watched the Bird & Taurasi MegaCast on ESPN2.

As for the pair of Friday’s Final Four games, South Carolina’s win over Louisville drew 2.047 million viewers on ESPN, while UConn’s victory over Stanford picked up 3.110 million. Bird & Taurasi MegaCast viewership wasn’t available for the first game, but 118,000 viewers watched on ESPNU during the second game. College baseball aired on ESPN2 head to head with the Final Four games, and Tennessee-Vanderbilt drew 174,000 viewers.

My main takeaway from these numbers, aside from how encouraging the viewership is for the women’s game, is (once again) that MegaCast options are discussed far more than warranted, given the low share of viewers in comparison to the main broadcast. This isn’t exactly a bold take: the ManningCast, Twitter’s favorite thing to talk about during Monday Night Football, struggled to pull 15% of MNF’s total audience. In the college football world, the difference was even more stark this January: 22.257 million people watched the main Georgia-Alabama National Championship broadcast on ESPN, while just 306,000 watched the MegaCast feeds on ESPN2 and ESPNU. Compared to that, the ~4.5% for Bird & Taurasi looks stellar.

About Joe Lucia

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