Celebrating Greatness: Record Viewers at the Women’s Final Four
For years, the women’s Final Four has been sold out. Powerhouse teams of the past like Tennessee, UConn, Stanford and Notre Dame commanded the eyes of the nation. However, this year the excitement multiplied. For example, the average cost of a ticket to attend the men’s Final Four games on Saturday was $231, with the highest price on Stub Hub of $9,576 per ticket. The average cost to attend the women’s Final Four games on Friday was $331, with the highest price on Stub Hub of $10,022 per ticket. There are reasons for these disparities, but let’s save those arguments for another time.
It should be noted that Friday’s TV viewership for the women’s Final Four generated 4.5 million viewers, making the Iowa vs. South Carolina game the most watched women’s basketball game of all time. However, that record suddenly seemed insignificant because Sunday’s Final, featuring Iowa and LSU brought in 9.9 million viewers. At its peak, 12.6 million viewers were watching the championship. By comparison, the 2021 NBA Finals had 9.89 million viewers and the average NFL game draws 16.7 million viewers (Thursday night games on Amazon only drew 9.58 million viewers in 2022).
Joe’s Perspective: As the weekend approached, I couldn’t help but compare this women’s Final Four to the 1979 men’s Final Four that featured Indiana State’s, Larry Bird and Michigan State’s Magic Johnson, which is still the most watched basketball game of all time (35.1 million viewers). This weekend had all the same intrigue, star-power and tremendous matchups. South Carolina had a 42-game winning streak and last year’s player of the year, Aliyah Boston. Iowa had this year’s player of the year, Caitlin Clark. Clark did not disappoint and scored 41 points en route to a victory over the undefeated Gamecocks of South Carolina. And, of course, the surprise LSU Tigers stole the show on Sunday, winning their first national championship. It was amazing. I watched every minute. Even though I had authored a chapter on South Carolina’s head coach, Dawn Staley, I was rooting for the 3-point shooting Caitlin Clark. She reminds me of Steph Curry.
With such great storylines and a few controversies emerging from the weekend, women’s college basketball is the talk of the nation. I hope this weekend sparks the same type of national excitement for the women’s game as 1979 did for the men. What say you?
Your Turn: Did you watch the women’s Final Four? Did you find the storylines compelling like me?