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Women’s College Basketball Championship Game Draws Record-Breaking 18.9 Million Viewers

3 minute read | April 2024

South Carolina-Iowa matchup becomes most-watched basketball game — at any level — since 2019.

New York – April 9, 2024 — An estimated 18.9 million viewers watched the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship matchup between the South Carolina Gamecocks and the Iowa Hawkeyes on ABC and ESPN on Sunday, according to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data. Viewership peaked at 24.1 million viewers during the final minutes of the game (between 5:00 – 5:14 PM ET).

The women’s championship game audience stands as the largest in women’s college basketball history, and is the most-watched basketball game — at any level — since 2019. It is also the third women’s basketball viewership record set in the past week, outpacing the 12.3 million viewers that watched the Iowa-LSU Elite Eight matchup on April 1, followed by the Iowa-UConn Final Four game on April 5, which drew 14.2 million viewers.

Viewership to the 2024 women’s championship game was up over 90% compared with the 9.9 million viewers that watched in 2023, and over 288% compared with the 2022 audience.

Meanwhile, an estimated 14.8 million viewers watched the Men’s College Basketball National Championship on Monday, April 8 between the University of Connecticut and Purdue — nearly 4 million less than the women’s championship. This marks the first time in NCAA tournament history that viewership of the women’s championship game was higher than the men’s game.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Viewership: 1995 – 2024
YearDateTime (ET)Network(s)MatchupTotal Viewers P2+
2024Apr 73:00 PMABC, ESPNS. CAR vs IOWA18,867,000
2023Apr 23:30 PMABC, ESPN2LSU vs IOWA9,915,000
2022Apr 38:00 PMESPN, ESPN2, ESPNUUCONN vs S. CAR4,854,000
2021Apr 46:00 PMESPNAZ vs STAN4,128,000
2019Apr 76:15 PMESPNND vs BAY3,727,000
2018Apr 16:15 PMESPNND vs MSST3,566,000
2017Apr 26:11 PMESPNMSST vs SC3,829,000
2016Apr 58:41 PMESPNUCONN vs SYR2,972,000
2015Apr 78:30 PMESPNND vs UCONN3,081,000
2014Apr 88:30 PMESPNND vs UCONN4,271,000
2013Apr 98:30 PMESPNLOU vs UCONN3,206,000
2012Apr 38:30 PMESPNND vs BAY4,244,000
2011Apr 58:30 PMESPNND vs TAMU3,831,000
2010Apr 68:19 PMESPNSTAN vs UCONN3,531,000
2009Apr 78:30 PMESPNUCONN vs LOU2,668,000
2008Apr 88:30 PMESPNSTAN vs TENN3,858,000
2007Apr 38:28 PMESPNRUTG vs TENN2,918,000
2006Apr 48:30 PMESPNUMD vs DUKE3,587,000
2005Apr 58:30 PMESPNBAY vs MSU3,235,000
2004Apr 68:28 PMESPNUCONN vs TENN5,583,000
2003Apr 88:30 PMESPNTENN vs UCONN4,369,000
2002Mar 318:30 PMESPNUCONN vs OKLA5,681,000
2001Apr 18:30 PMESPNND vs PUR3,730,000
2000Apr 28:59 PMESPNTENN vs UCONN3,676,000
1999Mar 288:58 PMESPNDUKE vs PUR5,137,000
1998Mar 298:30 PMESPNLA TECH vs TENN3,943,000
1997Mar 308:30 PMESPNODU vs TENN4,586,000
1996Mar 316:30 PMESPNTENN vs UGA3,515,000
1995Apr 23:49 PMCBSUCONN vs TENN7,444,000

Source: Nielsen

Time-shifted viewing (Live+Same-Day, 3am-3am) is included in audience estimates in this table for years 2006 and later. Estimates in 2005 and earlier include live viewing only. 

The NCAA Tournament was canceled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Lauren Pabst