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Iowa-UConn women's Final Four game is the most-watched hoops game in ESPN history

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) with head coach Lisa Bluder during a Final Four college basketball game against UConn in the women's NCAA Tournament, Friday, April 5, 2024, in Cleveland.
Morry Gash
/
AP
Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) with head coach Lisa Bluder during a Final Four college basketball game against UConn in the women's NCAA Tournament, Friday, April 5, 2024, in Cleveland.

BRISTOL, Conn. — Iowa's 71-69 victory over UConn at the women's Final Four on Friday night averaged 14.2 million viewers on ESPN, making it the most-viewed women's basketball game on record and the largest audience for an ESPN basketball broadcast.

The previous women's hoops mark was 12.3 million for last Monday's Iowa-LSU game in the Elite Eight. Game 7 of the 2018 Eastern Conference finals between Cleveland and Boston was ESPN's most-watched basketball game at 13.51 million.

That also makes it one of the most-viewed games in any sport other than college football and the NFL over the past couple years. Last year's NCAA men's title game between San Diego State and UConn averaged 14.79 million.

The Hawkeyes game, which saw the audience peak at 17 million, will likely go down as one of the top 50 primetime telecasts of 2024. It would have finished 32nd on last year's list.

It is also ESPN's second-highest audience for a non-football broadcast. The United States-Portugal match during group play in the 2014 men's World Cup averaged 18.22 million.

The last NBA game to draw at least 14 million was Golden State's title-clinching victory over Boston in Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals (14.22 million).

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark's five March Madness games on ESPN and ABC have averaged 8.3 million. Iowa will face South Carolina for the national championship Sunday afternoon on ABC.

South Carolina's 78-59 victory over North Carolina State averaged 7.1 million viewers, making it the third most-watched women's national semifinal since records started being kept in 1992.

The previous record for the most-viewed semifinal was Stanford vs. Virginia on CBS in 1992 (8.1 million).

Friday's two games averaged 10.8 million viewers, a 138% increase over last year.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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The Associated Press