Iowa-LSU is the Most-Watched College Basketball Game for ESPN Ever

A showdown for the ages brought in record ratings for ESPN.

The Elite Eight contest — which had Caitlin Clark’s Iowa Hawkeyes advance past Angel Reese’s LSU Tigers — delivered a record 12.3 million viewers for the sports network on Monday night.

That makes it the most-watched women’s college basketball game on record. In fact, it is ESPN’s best audience for a college basketball game — men’s or women’s — ever and ranks as the second most-watched NCAA Tournament game of 2024 so far.

The viewership for the highly anticipated rematch of 2023’s Women’s National Championship game peaked with 16.1 million viewers.

Iowa-LSU is ESPN’s highest audience for any basketball game since the 2018 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, and the second best for the network in over a decade.

The 2024 Women’s NCAA Tournament is pacing up in viewership by 127% year over year for ESPN, averaging 1.5M viewers through the completion of the Elite Eight.

The big ratings follows the announcement in January that ESPN and the NCAA reached a new, eight-year agreement for NCAA championships media rights.

The new deal, which will begin in September, includes domestic rights to a record 40 NCAA championships — 21 women’s and 19 men’s events — and international rights to those same NCAA championships plus the Division I men’s basketball tournament.

The NCAA Women’s Tournament resumes Friday night on ESPN in Cleveland, Ohio with the Final Four — South Carolina vs. NC State (7 p.m. ET) and Iowa vs. UConn (9 p.m.). Winners advance to the National Championship Game, Sunday at 3 p.m. on ABC.