Iowa-UConn breaks record for most-watched women’s college hoops game

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Another Iowa women’s basketball game, another new record for the sport when it comes to viewership.

Iowa’s 71-69 win over UConn on Friday night in Cleveland set a new record for the most-watched women’s college basketball game in history. The game was viewed by 14.2 million people and peaked at 17 million viewers. Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register was the first to report the news.

This game tops the previous all-time viewership record, which was set on Monday when Iowa’s win over LSU averaged 12.3 million viewers and peaked at 16 million viewers.

Certainly, Iowa was not alone in the viewership. UConn has long been the sport’s viewership standard bearer, and the Huskies’ win in Monday’s other Elite Eight matchup drew 6.7 million viewers, which would have surpassed every title game viewership since 1996 except for last year’s championship. Viewership for UConn-USC peaked at 10.4 million viewers.

The expectation among most sports media industry people is that Sunday’s title game between undefeated South Carolina and Iowa will set a new all-time mark. The only Q is how high will it be?

When looking at the four possible championship game matchups and ranking their viewership potential from highest to lowest, South Carolina versus Iowa came in at No. 1 in The Athletic’s prediction. Austin Karp of the Sports Business Journal said he could see this game hit 18 million viewers while Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch predicted the game would do 16-17 million viewers and that it would outdraw the men’s college basketball final.

“I do think 20 million could be in play,” Lewis said. “An undefeated team and Caitlin Clark is just that level of draw right now.”

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(Photo: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)





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