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Women’s March Madness Elite Eight viewership up 43% on ESPN

Elite Eight games draw an average of 2.2m viewers.

29 March 2023 Josh Sim

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Viewership for the Elite Eight round of this year’s women’s March Madness has increased by 43 per cent year-over-year (YoY) on ESPN.


  • The four Elite Eight games drew an average of 2.2 million viewers
  • Iowa Hawkeyes’ win over Louisville Cardinals was watched by an average 2.5 million viewers, with a peak of 2.7 million, becoming ESPN’s most-viewed Elite Eight game
  • Ohio State Buckeyes’ victory against Connecticut Huskies in the Sweet 16 round drew an average 2.4 million viewers on ABC, the highest viewership for a Sweet 16 game on record
  • Sweet 16 round averaged 1.2 million viewers across eight games, representing a 73 per cent jump YoY
  • Overall, each game in the tournament has averaged 660,000 viewers, up 42 per cent YoY
  • 4.7 billion minutes of the tournament have been consumed, the most on record


According to Sports Media Watch, the Iowa-Louisville game drew a larger audience than any of this season’s National Basketball Association (NBA) games on ESPN, with the network’s highest regular season viewership being 2.15 million for the New York Knicks’ win over the Boston Celtics. It falls just short of beating the viewership for the two men’s college games between Duke and North Carolina, which averaged 2.86 million and 2.63 million on ESPN earlier this year.

The women’s March Madness figures contrast with the men’s tournament taking a hit in ratings, with Sports Business Journal (SBJ) reporting that viewership is down six per cent YoY across CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV with an average of 9.12 million viewers. The Elite Eight broadcasts averaged 8.68 million viewers which was a 14 per cent decline on the previous year.

Coming next:

ESPN will hope for a continued surge in viewership for the women’s tournament as it reaches its conclusion later this week.

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