Advanced Television

Data: March Madness women’s final viewing surpasses men’s

April 12, 2024

The growth of women’s sports viewership was brought to the forefront during the 2024 March Madness tournament, reports Samba TV. In fact, for the first time in a March Madness tournament, the women’s Championship Game surpassed the men’s Championship Game in viewership, with 21 per cent more US households watching the South Carolina vs Iowa women’s final than the UConn vs Purdue men’s final.

While the men’s tournament continued to draw a larger audience across all games as a whole, the rivalries and star power within the women’s tournament made it a watershed year for women’s sports.

All rounds of the women’s tournament were up in viewership, led by Elite Eight

The round of the women’s tournament that drove the highest year-over-year increase in 2024 was the Elite Eight, driven by a hyped rematch between LSU and Iowa, with that round drawing more than double the viewership of 2023. The LSU vs Iowa game itself was the third most watched game of the 2024 women’s tournament, outpacing the Final Four semifinal matchup between NC State and South Carolina.

Men’s tournament brings in a massive audience, but is declining year-over-year

Every round of the men’s tournament saw a year-over-year decline in average game viewership. The Sweet Sixteen (-11 per cent) and the Championship (-8 per cent) rounds dropped by the highest margins.

Who watched the women’s tournament this year that didn’t last year?
Diverse, younger audiences are driving the increase in women’s March Madness viewership. Hispanic households saw the sharpest uptick in viewership across the tournament as a whole, while Asian, high income, and Gen Z households all drove year-over-year increases as well.

The highest over-index in viewership across the Championship games was among fans in Iowa watching their women compete, as Caitlin Clark played her last college game.

Additional data from Nielsen reports an estimated 18.9 million viewers watched the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship matchup on April 7th. Viewership to the game was up over 90 per cent compared with the 9.9 million viewers that watched in 2023, and over 288 per cent compared with the 2022 audience. Meanwhile, an estimated 14.8 million viewers watched the Men’s College Basketball National Championship on April 8th.

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