Women’s college basketball March Madness tournament outshines male counterparts in ratings and attendance.

South Carolina’s championship wasn’t the only history made in women’s sports as the championship game received an all-time viewership. A record-setting 18.7 million tuned in to witness the championship game reflecting the upward trajectory of women’s college basketball. 

The highly anticipated championship game between South Carolina and Iowa received more viewership than its male counterpart which only recorded 9.86 million viewers, up three percent from the previous year’s all-time low. 

This milestone is a first-time occurrence. A major reason for it is the must-see-play from superstar Iowa guard Caitlin Clark. 

“I want to personally thank Caitlin Clark for lifting up our sport. She carried a heavy load for our sport. And it’s just — it’s not going to stop here on the collegiate tour, but when she is the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft, she’s going to lift that league up as well.” South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Dawn Staley, stated when asked about Clark and the disbelief of the viewership.

The turnout additionally resulted in the most viewed basketball game men’s or women’s and college and professional since 2019. 

 Attendance and viewership compared to past years have been astronomical with the all-time viewership peaking at roughly 24 million viewers as the audience in attendance has increased year by year by 90%. The Final Four alone averaged 13.8 million viewers through two games as this milestone has blown past viewership of the Final Four out of the water as well. 

“The remarkable viewership throughout this women’s basketball season is a testament to the incredible performances of the student-athletes on the court. The game has never been more competitive or filled with more great teams, stars and storylines. The record numbers also reflect the successful collaboration between the NCAA and ESPN and our shared commitment to continue to grow women’s basketball.” ESPN Senior Vice President of Programming and Acquisitions Nick Dawson stated.  

The all-time viewership is a testament to a new era within sports as women’s college and professional leagues will gain increasing popularity and be observed as more influential for young upcoming female athletes. 

With March Madness possessing a reputation of being associated more often than not with male college basketball, the turnout from this year’s women’s March Madness is evidence for the sport and tournament to transcend. 

“I had not seen it much women’s basketball] before this year. I didn’t make it appointment television. This year, it was appointment television. That’s what happened when you see those numbers. There were a lot of people making notes to sit down and watch the games.” said former CBS Sports President Neal Pilson.

With intrusive scenarios and thrilling moments in this year’s tournament, the future of women’s college basketball shows promise to be a mainstream sport. Regardless of the outcomes following this historic season, the sport will look back on this milestone as a staple to the success and progression of the sport.