Athletes Lawyer

Keeping You In The Game

Women’s basketball beats the men

On Behalf of | Apr 27, 2024 | Current Events |

Remember last year when we said that the NCAA TV ratings will climb, particularly for women’s sports? On Sunday, South Carolina’s women’s basketball team triumphed over Iowa in the NCAA championship game, drawing an impressive audience of 18.7 million across ABC and ESPN. This viewership is notable as it’s the largest for a basketball game since the 2019 men’s NCAA title game and ranks among the most-watched U.S. sporting events outside of football, the World Cup, and the Olympics since 2019.

The peak viewership hit 24 million. The women’s game surpassed Monday’s men’s final between UConn and Purdue in viewership, a historical first. The men’s final, which saw UConn claim victory, was broadcast on TBS and TNT.

The last college basketball game to exceed the women’s championship’s audience was the 2015 Final Four matchup between Wisconsin and Kentucky on TBS, attracting 22.63 million viewers. In contrast, the 2022 men’s final drew 18.1 million.

Iowa and Caitlin Clark lead the way

The Iowa Hawkeyes played in the three most-watched NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament games. Iowa, led by Caitlin Clark, has consistently drawn large audiences, with their Friday victory over UConn averaging 14.2 million and their Elite Eight win on April 1 against LSU bringing in 12.3 million. The viewership for this year’s women’s title game surged by 89% from last year’s matchup and is a whopping 285% higher than the audience for South Carolina’s championship win two years prior.

Clark celebrated the viewership figures on social media, highlighting the 18.7 million with a fire emoji. The last NBA game to attract a comparable audience was Game 6 of the 2019 Finals, with 18.34 million viewers. While Iowa lost, the women’s final was the most-watched Sunday afternoon sporting event on ESPN and ABC since a 2021 NFL playoff game, underscoring women’s basketball’s growing appeal and recognition.

NIL’s significant impact on ads

Those who watched games also got a steady stream of ads. This is nothing new. What was new was the staggering number of college athletes taking advantage of their NIL power. There is now a long list of college athletes doing ads for local markets and national spots. Here is a small sampling of what people saw during the games or in their media feeds:

  • Caitlin Clark: Nike, Gatorade, etc.
  • Cameron Brink: New Balance
  • Jacob Toppin: ATT
  • Angel Reese: Starry Soda, Bose, Amazon, etc.
  • Flau’jae Johnson: Amazon, Uninterrupted, etc.
  • Armando Bacot: Frosted Flakes, Dunkin Donuts, etc.
  • Jared McCain: Champs Sports, Recover 180 and Crocs.
  • Hunter Dickinson: Adidas and Outback Steakhouse
  • Zach Edey: Daps