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Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Iowa's 94-87 victory over LSU in Monday night's Albany 2 Regional final averaged 12.3 million viewers on ESPN, according to Nielsen. Iowa star and all-time NCAA scoring leader Caitlin Clark's four games in the women's NCAA tournament on ESPN and ABC have averaged 6.83 million viewers.

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Iowa's last five games on television have surpassed 3 million viewers, including the last three that have drawn at least 4.9 million.

LSU's victory over UCLA on Saturday, which preceded the Iowa game, averaged 3.8 million, the second most-watched Sweet 16 game on record.

South Carolina's win over Indiana on Friday averaged 2.1 million on ESPN and UConn's victory over Duke on Saturday, also on ESPN, drew 2 million.

Last year's LSU-Iowa national championship game, on ABC, drew 9.9 million viewers. Monday's LSU-Iowa rematch, on cable, crushed that number.

The tagline 'She Got Next' might have been a few years premature because there is no doubt that womens basketball is the hotest sports property going at the minute. A perfect storm of remarkable players with entertaining skills has worked its way into the American sports conscious in a way it never has before. The viewership numbers are larger than any domestic sport except for the NFL.

But make no mistake, this national popularity is driven by star power, namely Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Paige Bueckers, and Juju Watkins to mention last night's leading 4. Each woman is incredibly talented at their craft, with 3 of them being great shooters and prolific scorers from all over the floor and the fourth a dominating post presence on both offense and defense. It's likely that 2 of these ladies will move over to the WNBA which starts playing in only a few weeks after the tournament is over.

Being in Indianapolis, the town is overjoyed to become the new home of Caitlin Clark when she's chosen #1 in the draft by the Indiana Fever in two weeks. She already has multi-million dollar NIL contracts that will (at least initially) dwarf her WNBA salary of $76,535 in year one. That's only her base, she will be eligible for incentive bonuses. In my opinion, Clark is going to do for women basketball players what Tiger Woods did for golfers: She will draw eyeballs and sponsorship money by the busloads. And I predict that the premier WNBA players will soon be earning as much money as the top women tennis players due to the effect of these already famous college players taking their considerable talents to the pro league.

#1 | Posted by tonyroma at 2024-04-02 08:42 PM | Reply

Looks like the King is taking notice as well:

LeBron James: 'Icons' like Reese, Clark lifting women's hoops

"I think the popularity comes in with the icons that they have in the women's game. You look at Angel Reese, you look at JuJu [Watkins], you look at Caitlin Clark, you look at Paige [Bueckers]. You look at the young girl that's at Iowa State, the freshman there [Audi Crooks]. You look at [Cameron] Brink ... at Stanford. And that's just to name a few. And the freshman that's at Notre Dame [Hannah Hidalgo]" says LeBron.

"You're able to build a real iconic legacy at a program," James said. "And that's what we all love about it. That's what we all love. We love the girl's game because of that moment you actually get to see those girls [build to]. Players, depending on who they are, will drive the attention when it comes to viewership."

Monday's Elite Eight game between Clark's Iowa Hawkeyes and Reese's LSU Tigers attracted an average of 12.3 million viewers on ESPN. Only one game in the men's NCAA tournament accounted for more: Duke vs. NC State, with a trip to the Final Four on the line, at 15.1 million viewers.

#2 | Posted by tonyroma at 2024-04-04 10:13 AM | Reply

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