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.
— ESPN PR (@ESPNPR) April 3, 2023
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.