Iowa’s Elite 8 victory surpassed every NBA game on ESPN this season
The proof is in the pudding and there is no denying what the numbers say. The Iowa Hawkeyes are drawing in viewers and doing so at a massive rate. Their latest victory, the Elite Eight win over Louisville, proved that true.
All women’s basketball needed was the chance and it will shine like it is doing right now. The women’s game has the biggest and brightest stars in college basketball that are household names. That holds true when looking at the viewership of the Elite Eight game.
Iowa-Louisville reeled in a whopping 2.49 million viewers per Show Buzz Daily.
That’s notable because it’s a massive viewing audience, but it’s also notable because it’s a larger viewing audience than any 2022-23 NBA regular season game broadcast on ESPN.
Per Show Buzz Daily, the highest-rated NBA regular season game thus far this season on ESPN was the March 5 game between the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics. That game drew 2.14 million viewers.
The next-closest ESPN NBA regular season contest to Iowa-Louisville in the ratings was the Denver Nuggets versus Golden State Warriors contest all the way back during the NBA’s season-opening week on Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. That game pulled in an average of 1.91 million viewers.
As a matter of fact, only the LSU-Miami Elite Eight contest failed to out-rate ESPN’s top NBA broadcast thus far this season. That contest still drew 1.89 million.
Ohio State versus Virginia Tech pulled in 2.23 million viewers, while South Carolina versus Maryland had an average of 2.16 million watching.
Sunday's Iowa vs Louisville women's NCAA tournament game on ESPN had more TV viewers than any NBA game ESPN has aired all season so far. #MarchMadness pic.twitter.com/Iwp6j6TaZF
— Danny Neckel (@DNeckel19) March 28, 2023
The game had star power in Caitlin Clark and Hailey Van Lith. It had high stakes with a spot in the Final Four up for grabs. It delivered big time and it is proof of the promotion of the women’s game being worth every single second.
For reference, the average NBA regular season game drew 1.6 million viewers across ABC, ESPN and TNT last season. This game cleared that number with ease. The Hawkeyes showed just how dominant they can be as a team and what the face of the game looks like on full display.
Here’s a look at how the Iowa-Louisville broadcast stacked up relative to some of the other weekend sports programming.
Louisville/Iowa Women's March Madness: 2.499M
XFL, Saturday 1P ABC: 1.047M
Pro Bull Riding, Sunday Noon CBS: 1.001M
NHL*, Saturday 8P ABC: 922K
XFL*, Sunday 3P ABC: 753K
*had Men's March Madness competition
— Sports TV Ratings (@SportsTVRatings) March 28, 2023
The overall viewership came in at just a hair under two and a half million viewers. That number in itself is truly incredible but may get dwarfed this Friday when Iowa takes on South Carolina for a shot at the title.
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