NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship Brings in Massive Numbers on ESPN and ABC

After an exciting Final Four and a run of record ratings, the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship culminated with massive viewership on ESPN and ABC.

The contest — which had Kamilla Cardoso’s South Carolina Gamecocks take the title over Caitlin Clark’s Iowa Hawkeyes — delivered a huge 18.7 million viewers. That number is only expected to grow when final Nielsen numbers are reported Tuesday.

The audience was up 89% from 2023’s Women’s National Championship and a whopping 285% over 2022’s. The viewership for the highly anticipated battle between two of the best teams in the country peaked with 24 million viewers.

The championship ranks as the most-watched basketball game — pro or college — since the 2019 Men’s NCAA Championship. And, excluding football and the Olympics, it’s the most-watched sporting event across all networks since Game 7 of the 2019 World Series.

“With a record-setting audience of 18.7 million viewers, Sunday’s Iowa-South Carolina title game was a fitting finale to the most-viewed ever NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament,” Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN Chairman, said. “These exceptional athletes, coaches and teams captured our attention in unprecedented ways and it’s incumbent on all of us to keep the incredible momentum going. I’m also very proud of our talented and committed employees for how they presented this historic event.”

The 2024 Women’s Basketball NCAA Tournament may be over, but The Walt Disney Company’s investment in women’s athletics continues.

Up first is the 2024 WNBA Draft, which tips off on April 15 on ESPN at 7:30pm ET. WNBA Countdown begins from Brooklyn at 7pm ET on ESPN.

Then Full Court Press — a new ESPN+ Original Series that chronicles the ongoing journeys of Clark, Cardoso and sophomore UCLA guard Kiki Rice — premieres on May 11 and 12 on ABC and ESPN+.

ESPN announced in January that it reached a new, eight-year agreement with the NCAA for 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.