Caitlin Clark Indiana Fever Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA debut drew the league’s highest audience in over two decades.

Per Sports Media Watch, Clark’s debut with the Indiana Fever averaged 2.12 million viewers on ESPN2. It’s the most-watched WNBA game ever on an ESPN platform and the most-watched WNBA game since an NBC broadcast of the 2001 Sparks-Comets game averaged 2.45 million viewers on Memorial Day 2001. The league previously hadn’t topped a million viewers for a game since 2008.

The previous record for a WNBA game on an ESPN platform came in 2004 when Diana Taurasi’s debut averaged 1.4 million viewers on ABC.

For the record, the game didn’t crack the top ten most-watched WNBA games ever and also didn’t exceed last month’s WNBA Draft, which averaged 2.45 million viewers.

Clark’s debut fell far short of NBA Playoff competition on TNT. The Pacers-Knicks game averaged 4.88 million viewers, while Timberwolves-Nuggets averaged 4.51 million. Head-to-head, the Fever game beat the Bruins-Panthers NHL Stanley Cup Playoff game on ESPN (which averaged 1.98 million viewers).

Perhaps interestingly, the Pacers’ game smashed the Fever locally. In the Indianapolis market, the Fever’s loss to the Connecticut Sun drew a 2.95 rating. On TNT and truTV, the Pacers’ loss to the Knicks more than tripled that mark with a combined 10.9 rating.

Overall, the WNBA and Clark’s debut held up on a pretty strong night for national sports. Roughly nine million fans were watching three different games in primetime on Tuesday, not to mention all of those watching baseball locally. The game topped an NHL Playoff game and drew a two-decade-high watermark for one of the league’s games.

[Sports Media Watch]

About Joe Lucia

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