March Madness

Caitlin Clark reacts to Iowa-South Carolina drawing massive TV audience

Sunday's national championship was the most-watched basketball game since 2019.

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

A thrilling 2024 women's NCAA Tournament ended on a record-setting note.

Undefeated South Carolina's victory over Caitlin Clark and Iowa in Sunday's national championship game had a preliminary television audience average of 18.7 million on ABC and ESPN, making it the most-watched basketball game since 2019. That includes men's and women's college games, along with NBA and WNBA contests.

The only sporting events in the United States to draw a bigger TV audience since 2019 have been football, the World Cup and the Olympics.

Iowa-South Carolina was the most-watched women's college basketball game since 1992, and the audience numbers are expected to increase when Nielsen releases its final numbers on Tuesday as well.

The championship game, which peaked at 24 million viewers, featured a rematch of sorts between an unbeaten South Carolina team and Clark in the final game of her legendary college career. The two sides had met under similar circumstances in last year's Final Four, where Clark and Co. ended the Gamecocks' perfect season.

This time around, though, Dawn Staley's squad was simply too much for the Hawkeyes. Clark was held to 30 points on 28 shots and South Carolina boasted a staggering 37-0 advantage in bench scoring as the Gamecocks claimed their second title in three years.

One day after suffering a second straight championship defeat, Clark took to social media to share her excitement over the game's massive viewership numbers.

“When I think about women’s basketball going forward, obviously it’s just going to continue to grow, whether it’s at the WNBA level, whether it’s at the college level,” Clark said after Sunday's game. “Everybody sees it. Everybody knows.”

The last three contests of Clark's Iowa career were all record-setters in terms of viewership for women's college basketball games. The Hawkeyes' Elite Eight victory over defending champion LSU drew 12.3 million viewers, while 14.2 million tuned in for Iowa's Final Four win against UConn.

Iowa-South Carolina saw an 89% increase in viewership compared to last year's title game between Iowa and LSU and a 285% increase compared to South Carolina's win over UConn in the 2022 championship.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Caitlin Clark had a historic performance in her final game of her college career, despite losing to South Carolina in the national championship. Here’s a look at the records she broke, final numbers in her illustrious career at Iowa.
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