We need to talk about the ratings the NCAA women’s tournament is getting.
That’s right, I said we need to talk about women’s basketball.
If you’re one of those cornballs that tweets “kitchen” in the mentions of any WNBA highlight, you might want to close this internet window and go spend some time staring directly into the sun, or doing whatever else caused you to act so damaged.
For the rest of you, let’s get into the numbers. So far, the women’s tournament has an average viewership of 660,000 per game– a 42-percent viewership increase from 2022.
ESPN says the Sweet 16 round’s 1.2 million viewers per-game is a 73 percent jump over last season, and the women’s Elite Eight viewership averaged 2.2 million- up 43 percent over 2022
And get this- ESPN says the Iowa/Louisville Elite 8 game drew more viewers than any NBA game they’ve broadcasted this season. Most importantly for ESPN, before all these ratings went gangbusters, Disney Advertising sold out of in-game sponsorship opportunities. Capital One, Nissan and others are getting crazy bang for their buck right now, and you can guarantee there will be a priority for next year’s ad slots thanks to these ratings.
Other people watching something isn’t necessarily a reason you should watch. The reason you should be watching is that the athletes are as good as they’ve ever been, and the storylines are as entertaining as they’ve ever been. The top teams are fun, flashy, talk trash, star in commercials, and play the game the right way.
I’ll never understand people that say they’ll never watch a women’s game because it’s an inferior product- Keeping up with the Kardashians isn’t the same quality as Breaking Bad, but they both do numbers because they’re both entertaining.
Iowa’s Caitlin Clark dropped a 40-point triple double. Are you not entertained?
Louisville’s Hailey Van Lith, a former Kobe Bryant protégé, bounced Texas out of the sweet 16 and talked trash in the handshake line after the game. Are you not entertained?
The Cavinder Twins, formerly of Fresno State, propelled Miami to an Elite 8 while leading the charge on all that is possible for capitalizing on your own Name, Image and Likeness- plus Haley Cavinder shushing 1-seed Indiana after a game-sealing free throw is as cold blooded as it gets. Are you not entertained?
Kim Mulkey’s insane outfits every time LSU takes the court. Angel Reese with six different 20-point, 20-rebound performances this season. Dawn Staley turning South Carolina into the new UConn with 42-straight wins. Virginia Tech making their first ever Final Four behind 6-6 Liz Kitley, the most consistent player in the country over the last three years. How can you not be entertained?
You can stay sleeping on the women’s tournament if you want to, but why would you want to?
This Friday night you can catch me watching LSU/Va Tech and Iowa/South Carolina. Tune in with me. You just might enjoy yourself.
Let that sink in.