Iowa-UConn March Madness thriller sets ratings record as ESPN’s most-viewed basketball game ever

Women’s college basketball keeps on setting new television ratings records during the 2024 NCAA Tournament — and this time, it was ESPN’s most-viewed basketball broadcast ever.

Less than one week after Iowa’s Elite Eight matchup with LSU set the previous record for most-watched women’s NCAA basketball game with 12.3 million viewers, the Hawkeyes’ Final Four thriller against UConn garnered 14.2 million viewers, according to ESPN.

The Final Four matchup also peaked at 17 million viewers.

The network also said there was an average of 7.1 million viewers who tuned in to watch undefeated South Carolina beat North Carolina State in its Final Four matchup on Friday.

Both of Iowa’s last two games have shattered the previous NCAA women’s basketball ratings record (9.9 million viewers) that was set last year when the Hawkeyes fell to LSU in the national title game.

Iowa’s win over UConn set a women’s college TV ratings record. Getty Images
Aaliyah Edwards was called for an illegal screen in the final seconds of UConn’s Final Four loss to Iowa. Screengrab

Those who tuned into Friday’s Iowa-UConn Final Four saw quite the game, with the Huskies containing Clark in the first half before she and Iowa rallied to take a late lead — holding a one-point edge in the waning seconds before controversy set in.

Iowa won a thriller over UConn that came down to the final seconds. Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Caitlin Clark will now play in the title game again. Getty Images

With 10 seconds to go and trailing by one, UConn ran a play to try and get star Paige Bueckers open, but Aaliyah Edwards was called for an illegal screen on Iowa’s Gabbie Marshall, all but closing out an Iowa win.

After Clark sunk a free throw on the other end, the Hawkeyes sealed a 71-69 victory and a second straight berth in the national title game.

With a Clark taking on a loaded South Carolina team, there’s a chance that the championship game on Sunday afternoon could set another ratings record.


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