Sports

South Carolina-Iowa women’s basketball national championship draws record viewership

The NCAA women’s basketball national championship between South Carolina and Iowa smashed ratings records on Sunday.

The Gamecocks’ win over the Hawkeyes drew in 18.7 million views to ABC’s coverage with a peak of 24 million viewers during the game, according to ESPN. The number is up 89% from last year and 285% from the 2022 national championship.

Dawn Staley celebrates the team

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley celebrates after the Final Four college basketball championship game against Iowa in the women’s NCAA Tournament, Sunday, April 7, 2024, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

ESPN said the game was the most-watched sporting event outside of American football and the Olympics since 2019.

Two key factors helped bring the ratings to new heights. Dawn Staley’s Gamecocks looked to remain undefeated and finish the year with its second championship in three seasons all while Caitlin Clark was hoping to end her collegiate career with a national championship.

Clark scored 30 points but it wasn’t enough to topple South Carolina.

The Iowa sharpshooter’s scoring mark set earlier this season drew global attention onto the sport of women’s basketball.

PAIGE SPIRANAC COMES TO DEFENSE OF CAITLIN CLARK: ‘WOMEN CAN BE ABSOLUTELY VICIOUS TO OTHER WOMEN’

Dawn Staley holds the net

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley cuts down the net after the Final Four college basketball championship game against Iowa in the women’s NCAA Tournament, Sunday, April 7, 2024, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Staley credited Clark with helping lift the sport over the last two seasons as she celebrated the win.

“I want to personally thank Caitlin Clark for lifting up our sport,” Staley said. “She carried a heavy load for our sport, and it is not going to stop here on a collegiate tour. When she’s the No. 1 pick in the WNBA Draft, she’s going to lift that league up as well.

“So, Caitlin Clark, if you’re out there, you are one of the GOATs [greatest of all time] of our game, and we appreciate you.”

Iowa has been a part of record-breaking ratings in its last three games.

Caitlin Clark drives

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) drives around South Carolina guard Raven Johnson (25) during the second half of the Final Four college basketball championship game in the women’s NCAA Tournament, Sunday, April 7, 2024, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

The team’s close win against UConn held the record for the mostwatched women’s college basketball game ever with 14.2 million viewers. Before that, its win over LSU was the most-watched with 12.3 million viewers.

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