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South Carolina vs Iowa Game Breaks Viewership Records

The Most-Watched Basketball Game in the Last 5 Years!

Crazy Numbers

Women’s college basketball took center stage on Sunday afternoon as the NCAA tournament concluded with Caitlin Clark’s Hawkeyes taking on the undefeated South Carolina women’s basketball team. The matchup drew a record 18.7 million viewers on ABC and ESPN.

 

South Carolina vs Iowa Game Breaks Viewership Records
Kamilla Cardoso #10 of the South Carolina/Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP

Girl Power

In a bit of stunning NCAAW news, more viewers tuned in to see the Iowa women’s basketball team take on the South Carolina Gamecocks women’s squad than any basketball game in the last five years. The 18.7 million viewers who watched the Tigers defeat the Hawkeyes, 87-75, proved to be a bigger audience than not only any men’s or women’s collegiate basketball game during that span but it topped viewership of any NBA game as well.


It was the third time Caitlin Clark and her Iowa Hawkeye teammates broke a viewership record as the rematch of last year’s title tilt between Iowa and LSU in the Elite Eight broke a women’s college basketball viewership record with 12.3 million viewers, peaking at more than 16.1 million viewers.

But that record didn’t last long as Clark and her mates met UConn in the Final Four and eclipsed that mark with 14.2 million viewers which peaked at roughly 17 million, and became ESPN’s most-viewed basketball game regardless of level or gender.

However, the 2024 championship game between Iowa and South Carolina saw its audience numbers soar above any men’s game, collegiate or pro, since 2019 as the broadcast reached a high of 24 million viewers. The switch from ESPN to ABC also helped the cause as the latter reaches far more households than the sports media giant’s TV network.

 

Star Power

Caitlin Clark was undeniably the audience magnet after setting a career collegiate scoring record that had stood for over 50 years with the late Pete Maravich holding the mark since 1970. Unfortunately, Clark’s fairytale season ended the same way it did last year as her team fell to LSU in the finals in 2023 and to South Carolina this year.


Despite Clark’s two near-misses of capturing a national championship, the soon-to-be No. 1 overall pick in the WNBA Draft says she regrets nothing after her historic career as a member of the Iowa Hawkeyes.

“There’s not a regret in my mind of how things went,” Clark told reporters after the game. “I’ll be able to sleep every night even though I never won a national championship.”


As for the enormous ratings her games drew, Clarks said, “When you’re given an opportunity, women’s sports just kind of thrives. I think that’s been the coolest thing for me on this journey.

“We started our season playing in front of 55,000 people in Kinnick Stadium. And now we’re ending it playing in front of probably 15 million people or more on TV. It just continues to get better and better and better. That’s never going to stop,” Clark added.

 

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