Iowa’s Caitlin Clark-Led ‘Elite 8’ Win Over LSU Monday Averaged a Record 12.3 Million Viewers for ESPN

Caitlin Clark
(Image credit: Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

Monday night’s Elite 8 women’s NCAA tournament basketball matchup between Iowa and LSU yielded an average audience of 12.3 million viewers for ESPN, according to Nielsen, making it the most-watched women’s basketball game ever.

The highly anticipated game featured Iowa star guard Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes  avenging a 2023 title game loss to LSU and its star, Angel Reese. That title game, also presented by ESPN, delivered an average audience of 9.9 million viewers.

The previous record stood for 41 years — that was USC and Cheryl Miller’s title game victory over Louisiana Tech (and current LSU coach Kim Mulkey) back in 1983, which averaged 11.83 million viewers.

Both Clark and Reese will be playing in the WNBA next season, soon to be joined by incendiary USC freshman JuJu Watkins and UConn’s Paige Bueckers, two stars who also faced off in another Elite 8 game Monday.

UConn’s 80-73 victory over the Trojans averaged 6.7 million viewers. It's been a fruitful tournament for ESPN, which just re-upped the Division I Women's Basketball postseason as part of a multiyear package that values the tourney at around $65 million a year. 

Monday night’s audience swelled to 12.5 million viewers, according to iSpot, growing steadily throughout the telecast.

(Image credit: iSpot)
Daniel Frankel

Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. You can start living a healthier life with greater wealth and prosperity by following Daniel on Twitter today!