Iowa's win over LSU breaks record for most-watched women's college basketball game

When asked what she said to Kaitlin Clark after Iowa's 94-87 win over LSU in the Elite Eight in Albany — a game in which Clark scored 41 points. Tied NCAA Tournament single-game record with nine 3-pointers – LSU women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey, “What did I tell her? I said, I'm sure glad you're leaving. I said, girl, you're something else. Never seen anything like it. “

No one has ever seen anything like what we're seeing now when it comes to women's college basketball audiences. Clark has racked up numerous accomplishments during her career, and she and those who played in Monday night's game can now add this to their resume: They played in the most watched women's college basketball game in history.

Iowa's win over LSU 12.3 million viewers on average and reached 16 million viewers. It broke the previous all-time mark set last year LSU beat Iowa in last year's championship, which averaged 9.9 million viewers and 12.6 million viewers.

UConn's win over USC in Monday's other Elite Eight matchup drew 6.7 million viewers, surpassing every title game viewership since 1996 except last year's championship.

Before last year, the The previous record for an NCAA women's basketball title game in the ESPN era (since 1996) was 5.68 million viewers for UConn's title win over Oklahoma in 2002, a game featuring Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi. The 8.1 million viewers for the Virginia-Stanford national semifinal on CBS in 1992 was the previous record for any women's basketball game prior to last year's title game.

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But all of this existed in the world before Clarke and co sent visitors into new orbit. Iowa won the Sweet 16 against Colorado 6.9 million viewers on average. These were unheard of numbers in the women's game for that round.

Now comes Friday night's national semifinals on ESPN. Last year The Iowa-South Carolina semifinal averaged 5.5 million viewers, the largest audience ever for a semifinal. The two semifinal games combined averaged 4.5 million viewers, the most in the College Final Four. Full 2023 final four weekend — including the championship — averaged 6.5 million viewers.

This year's semifinals — with South Carolina and NC State in the opener and undefeated Iowa against UConn — will undoubtedly shatter last year's Final Four record. UConn has historically been the standard bearer of the game for women's basketball audiences and Clark has taken the game to unprecedented heights.

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(Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

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