Angel Reese. Apr 2, 2023; Dallas, TX, USA; LSU Lady Tigers forward Angel Reese (10) celebrates during the NCAA Womens Basketball Final Four National Championship against the Iowa Hawkeyes at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

LSU’s 102-85 win over Iowa in the NCAA Women’s Tournament championship on Sunday drew a record audience for a women’s college basketball game.

ESPN announced that the game averaged 9.9 million viewers across all networks (ABC, ESPN2, ESPN+), making it the most-watched women’s college basketball game on record.

The record audience for the title game comes days after record breaking Final Four viewershipΒ and a week after record viewership for both the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.

Going into Sunday’s game, I think a lot of people expected a pretty big audience, especially after the success of the three previous rounds. But last year’s championship game between South Carolina and UConn averaged 4.85 million viewers, and was the most-watched title game since 2004. This game *more than doubled* the viewership of that one. It’s a simply staggering year over year increase, and adds yet another data point to the growing evidence that the women’s tournament should be removed from the NCAA’s championship bundle and sold separately.

A 67 game tournament that concludes with four straight rounds of record viewership is worth a hell of a lot more than however much of a $40 million bundle you want to credit it for.

About Joe Lucia

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