Iowa vs. LSU Apr 1, 2024; Albany, NY, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark (22) fights for control against LSU Lady Tigers forward Angel Reese (10) in the fourth quarter in the finals of the Albany Regional in the 2024 NCAA Tournament at MVP Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Women’s college basketball has continued its incredible rise in popularity during the NCAA Tournament, and ESPN is reaping the benefits.

The network announced Tuesday that it achieved record ratings for its broadcasts of Elite 8 games. The Iowa-LSU game Monday night, a rematch of last year’s national championship, averaged 12.3 million viewers.

ESPN tweeted the news in all-caps: “Monday night’s rematch between @IowaWBB & @LSUwbkb scores as the MOST-WATCHED WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL GAME ON RECORD.”

And lest anyone think the record Elite 8 ratings were a phenomenon driven primarily by interest in Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, and the LSU-Iowa grudge match, the other three Elite 8 games also garnered big ratings.

The UConn-USC matchup drew 6.7 million viewers. South Carolina-Oregon State posted 3.1 million viewers and N.C. State-Texas had 2.5 million.

All together, the matchups provided four of the five most-watched Elite 8 games on record, and the 6.2 million average viewers marked a 184% increase over 2023.

The news bodes well for the upcoming Final Four, which has some juicy storylines with Clark and her teammates seeking a title, undefeated South Carolina, perennial power UConn, and N.C. State, which joins the men’s Wolfpack team in the Final Four.

Some observers have questioned whether the record interest in women’s basketball will continue after Clark departs for the WNBA next season. Fox Sports executive Michael Mulvihill told The Colin Cowherd Podcast recently that while the numbers may dip, “I think a permanent step forward has happened, and we’re still going to see some pretty strong interest in the future.”

But that’s a question for later. Right now, women’s CBB is red-hot, ESPN’s TV ratings are booming, and the Final Four is expected to bring more of the same.


About Arthur Weinstein

Arthur spends his free time traveling around the U.S. to sporting events, state and national parks, and in search of great restaurants off the beaten path.