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Women’s college basketball viewership continues to surge

(Amanda Hajjar/Just Women's Sports)

Women’s college basketball just completed its most-viewed regular season on ESPN in eight years, continuing a viewership surge for women’s sports.

Across ESPN networks, women’s college basketball games averaged 199,999 viewers for the 2022-23 season, an 11% increase from last season. Sunday’s SEC championship between South Carolina and Tennessee averaged 866,000 viewers on ESPN.

ESPN wasn’t the only network to reap the benefits. Big Ten Network saw Big Ten Tournament viewership increase by 25% and regular-season viewership increase by 19% compared to last season. The conference tournament attracted 150,000 viewers per game, peaking with 380,000 viewers for the semifinal between Iowa and Maryland. (The championship game aired on ESPN.)

The total audience for regular season women’s college hoops jumped by 54% this season across all networks, Fox Sports executive Michael Mulvihill tweeted. With more games available across networks and those games attracting more viewers, women’s college basketball had a landmark season.

The national championship game is set to air on ABC for the first time at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 2. South Carolina’s win against UConn in the tournament final last April averaged 4.85 million viewers across ESPN’s platforms, while season’s NCAA Tournament averaged 634,000 viewers per game, a 16% increase from the 2020-21 season.

Women’s sports have made leaps across the broadcast landscape in the last year. The 2022 NWSL title match drew 915,000 viewers on CBS, an increase of 71% from the 2021 final, while the WNBA had its most-watched regular season in 14 years and its most-watched postseason in 15 years.