While women’s March Madness viewership and attendance numbers have reached new heights, player’s social media followings also spotlight the shifting sports landscape.
Just three players from this year’s men’s Final Four have more than 20,000 followers on Instagram, according to Sportico. The South Carolina’s women’s team has six bench players with at least that many followers, while Gamecocks starters — including Zia Cooke, Aliyah Boston and Breanna Beal — all top 100,000 followers.
Leading the Final Four this year, though, are LSU’s Flau’jae Johnson (884,000) and Angel Reese (558,000), whose numbers have both jumped even in the two days since Sportico ran its analysis. They’re followed by Cooke (235,000) and Iowa’s Caitlin Clark (230,000).
No men’s Final Four player tops 100,000. UConn’s Andre Jackson Jr. has the most among the men’s players, with 61,000.
Angel Reese and Flau’jae Johnson have more combined followers than all the other players on this list combined 🤯🤯🤯 https://t.co/mqbTJYtUlL pic.twitter.com/aXFK9Km6Vm— Grant Kauvar (@grant_kauvar) March 29, 2023
Angel Reese and Flau’jae Johnson have more combined followers than all the other players on this list combined 🤯🤯🤯 https://t.co/mqbTJYtUlL pic.twitter.com/aXFK9Km6Vm
And while some might attribute these numbers to the women’s Final Four featuring higher-profile teams, that’s not entirely true. According to Sportico, six of the top 10 players in social media following across the No. 1 seeds in the men’s and women’s brackets were women.
Among the semifinalists for the Naismith Player of the Awards, the top four in terms of social following were all women, led by Reese and followed by Stanford’s Cameron Brink, Clark and Boston.
Of course, deep tournament runs have led to bumps in social media followers. Reese’s numbers jumped almost 20% in the first two weeks of the tournament, as she began with 447,000 followers on Instagram.