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ESPN sees 43% viewership increase for women’s March Madness Elite Eight round

The four Elite Eight games attracted an average of 2.2 million viewers

Women’s college basketball continues to thrive in the United States, with ESPN’s viewership for the Elite Eight round of March Madness up by 43% compared with last season. 

The four games pulled an average of 2.2 million viewers this year, while the contest between the Iowa Hawkeyes and Louisville Cardinals was watched by an average of 2.5 million viewers. 

The Hawkeyes’ win over the Cardinals also peaked at 2.7 million, making it ESPN’s most-viewed Elite Eight game of all time. 

On top of that, Iowa vs Louisville attracted a larger audience than any of the National Basketball Association (NBA) games shown on ESPN this season.

The most-watched NBA game on ESPN this season drew 2.15 million viewers, with the New York Knicks defeating the Boston Celtics on that occasion. 

Earlier this year, the two men’s college basketball games between Duke and North Carolina averaged 2.86 million and 2.63 million viewers on ESPN, marginally outperforming the women’s tournament. 

In fact, the women’s tournament has been a major success throughout the 2022-23 campaign, as each game has averaged 660,000 viewers, up 42% from the previous season. 

It is also worth noting that 4.7 billion minutes of the tournament have been absorbed this season, smashing the previous record. 

Unsurprisingly, it is not just ESPN that has enjoyed record viewership this year. The Ohio State Buckeyes’ win over the Connecticut Huskies saw an average of 2.4 million viewers on ABC, making it the highest-viewed Sweet 16 game in history. 

The eight games in the Sweet 16 round averaged 1.2 million viewers, resulting in a 73% increase compared with last season. 

The Final Four round is set to go down this Friday, with the national championship game scheduled for Saturday, April 2. If the previous rounds are anything to go by, more viewership records are likely to tumble in the coming days. 

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