South Carolina‘s wire-to-wire victory in the 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship scored 4.85 million viewers Sunday night to become the most-watched women’s title game since 2004, and the fourth-largest audience to watch a women’s championship game since ESPN began exclusively airing the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament in 1996.
The 4.85 million viewers tuning in across ESPN networks Sunday was the most-watched cable program of the day, an audience increase of 18% year-over-year and 30% from 2019. The matchup peaked from 10-10:15 p.m. ET with 5.91 million viewers across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU, as South Carolina captured its second national title during ESPN’s MegaCast presentation.
“ESPN’s commitment to women’s basketball has never been stronger and this year’s viewership numbers are a clear indication of the growing popularity of the sport and the NCAA Women’s Tournament,” said Nick Dawson, ESPN vice president of programming and acquisitions. “Since ESPN began exclusively televising this event more than two decades ago, we have consistently strived to raise the bar in our presentation, and we are particularly gratified by our expanded coverage and the introduction of new elements like the MegaCast this year. We look forward to working with the NCAA to further enhance our presentation in the years ahead.”
Women’s Final Four Most-Watched Final Four in a Decade
The 2022 NCAA Women’s Final Four is the most-watched Final Four weekend since 2012, averaging 3.46 million viewers. The audience for the trio of games throughout the weekend was up 20% from 2021.
The National Semifinals scored 2.7 million average viewers, up 21% year-over-year and the most-viewed semifinals in a decade. Connecticut and Stanford‘s showdown registered 3.23 million viewers, up 19% from 2021 and 49% from 2019—the most-watched women’s semifinal game since 2012 (Stanford vs. Baylor). The matchup was the second-most-watched cable program of the day and most-watched overall among the coveted P18-49 demo. Louisville vs. South Carolina recorded 2.16 million viewers, up 27% and 43% from 2019, registering the most-watched audience of an early semifinal game since 2016 (Connecticut vs. Oregon State).
2022 NCAA Tournament Viewership Up Double Digits
The full NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament averaged 634,000 viewers per game, up 16% from last year’s coverage. The total hours of consumption were up 6% year-over-year, with viewers devouring 74.6 million hours of content across ESPN platforms, roughly 4.1 million more hours compared to 2021.
The 2022 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament experienced several additional viewership milestones throughout, including: