Women's NCAA Championship Scores More Viewers Than Men's Final — for the First Time Ever!

The highly-anticipated Iowa-South Carolina matchup beat the men's final by about 4 million viewers

<p>Steph Chambers/Getty</p> The Gamecocks celebrate after winning the 2024 NCAA women

Steph Chambers/Getty

The Gamecocks celebrate after winning the 2024 NCAA women's championship

Women’s college basketball ended with a bang this year!

The NCAA championship game — a highly anticipated matchup between South Carolina and the Caitlin Clark-led Iowa Hawkeyes — brought in more viewers than the men’s final for the first time in history.

On Sunday, April 7, the women’s final, which saw Gamecocks defeat the Hawkeyes 87-75, raked in 18.87 million viewers on ABC and ESPN, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Though the men’s final brought in slightly more viewers than last year’s championship game, UConn’s 75-60 defeat of Purdue drew about 4 million less than the women’s final, the outlet reported.

Related: Dawn Staley Thanks Caitlin Clark in Her NCAA Championship Speech for ‘Lifting Up Our Sport’

<p>Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images</p> UConn head coach celebrating after winning the 2024 NCAA men's final

Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

UConn head coach celebrating after winning the 2024 NCAA men's final

The men’s championship game on Monday, April 9 averaged about 14.82 million viewers across three networks, TBS, TNT and TruTV, per THR.

According to the outlet, it was not even the most-watched game in men’s March Madness this year, nor were either of the Final Four games on Saturday, April 6. Rather, that honor goes to the North Carolina State-Duke Elite Eight matchup on March 31, which drew 15.14 million viewers.

In addition to exceeding the men’s final viewership for the first time in the history of college basketball, the women’s final also made history on their own.

The championship matchup was the most-watched basketball game — in men’s and women’s, college and professional — since 2019, according to figures ESPN released on X (formerly known as Twitter).

Related: Iowa vs. South Carolina Women’s National Championship Game Smashes Records with 18.7M Viewers — and Caitlin Clark Is Pumped!

Peaking at 24 million viewers, it was also the most-watched sporting event since 2019, with the exception of football games and the Olympics, ESPN reported.

Viewership of the women’s final also skyrocketed from previous years, increasing by 89% from last year’s Iowa-LSU matchup and 285% from 2022’s South Carolina-UConn faceoff, per the outlet.

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<p>Gregory Shamus/Getty</p> From Left: Caitlin Clark playing against Kamilla Cardoso

Gregory Shamus/Getty

From Left: Caitlin Clark playing against Kamilla Cardoso

Related: Shaquille O'Neal Says He's Only Watching Women's College Basketball This Year: 'Just a Better Game' (Exclusive)

The 2024 NCAA women’s basketball final was even more emotionally charged than usual. It ended with an exciting victory for the Gamecocks — who were led by team standout Kamilla Cardoso — and a devastating blow for the Hawkeyes and Clark, ending the 22-year-old guard's college career without a championship title.

Following the Gamecocks’ win, head coach Dawn Staley congratulated the Hawkeyes on their “incredible season” and shouted out Clark, the highest all-time basketball scorer in NCAA Division I basketball, man or woman.

"I want to personally thank Caitlin Clark for lifting up our sport,” Staley said. “She carried a heavy load for our sport. And it’s just — it’s not going to stop here on the collegiate tour, but when she is the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft, she’s going to lift that league up as well.”

"So, Caitlin Clark, if you’re out there: You are one of the GOATs of our game, and we appreciate you," she finished.

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