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South Carolina-Iowa NCAA Championship Breaks Audience Record

South Carolina defeated Iowa in front of a record-breaking national audience on Sunday.

The NCAA Women’s Championship delivered 18.7M viewers across ABC and ESPN, which marks an 89% increase in viewership year-over-year.

Not only is that the most-watched women’s college basketball game on record, the matchup is also the second most-watched non-Olympic women’s sporting event ever on U.S. television. It comes in behind only the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final, according to Nielsen data.

Excluding both football and the Olympics, it is ESPN’s most-watched sporting event since 2019. It’s also the network’s most-watched basketball game across the board since 2019.

“With a record-setting audience of 18.7 million viewers, Sunday’s Iowa-South Carolina title game was a fitting finale to the most-viewed ever NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament,” ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro said in a statement. “These exceptional athletes, coaches and teams captured our attention in unprecedented ways and it’s incumbent on all of us to keep the incredible momentum going. I’m also very proud of our talented and committed employees for how they presented this historic event.”

The impressive championship audience caps a women’s college basketball tournament filled with historic viewership.

Friday’s semifinals averaged 3.1M P18-49 viewers, up more than 130% year-over-year. Uconn-Iowa delivered 14.2M viewers, making it the most-watched women’s college basketball game ever at the time, only for Iowa’s championship appearance to smash that record two days later.

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