CU Buffs matchup with Caitlin Clark’s Iowa sets TV records

Apr 2, 2024, 1:41 PM | Updated: 1:51 pm

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes shoots against Kindyll Wetta #15 of the Colorado Buffaloes...

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Colorado Buffaloes played in the most watched NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament game prior to the Final Four when they faced Iowa on Saturday.

The Hawkeyes, led by Caitlin Clark routed the Buffaloes 89-68. It was Colorado’s third-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and second run into the Sweet 16, where they’ve lost to Clark and the Hawkeyes two seasons in a row. Last year the game was much closer and got in front of a staggering 1.3 million people. Even though the Sweet 16 matchup this season wasn’t near as close, it blew the TV numbers out of the water.

Broadcasted on ABC, the game averaged 6.87 million viewers. At this point, the Saturday contest trails only last year’s LSU-Iowa final (9.92M) as the most-watched women’s tournament game since 1995. Though, the rematch LSU got with Iowa in Monday’s Elite Eight probably did a massive TV number but it hasn’t been calculated quite yet.

The Iowa-Colorado game was the second-most watched sporting event of Saturday, with only the Alabama-Clemson men’s Elite Eight game being more viewed with 7.79 million people watching.

For perspective here in Denver—that means more folks watched JR Payne’s squad on Satruday than watched any single Avalanche Stanley Cup Final game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2022. The most watched night of that series was Game 6, which got 5.8 million viewers. As for the other big hoops event in town recently, the NBA Finals ranged from 10.41 million to 13.08 million viewers during the 2023 series where the Denver Nuggets beat the Miami Heat.

Basically the country was just about as interested in the Buffs against the reigning Player of the Year Clark as the country was about the Nuggets Western Conference Finals battles with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Deion Sanders’ Buffs on the gridiron drew over 10 million viewers for their matchup with USC but even by their matchup with Stanford their number was down to 3.3 million viewers. Meaning the Buffs and Clark were a bigger draw than about half of the football season this past fall. The TCU game was the most similar in size, drawing 7.2 million viewers.

Clark and the Hawkeyes now face former player of the year Paige Bueckers and UCONN in the Final Four on Friday, which will likely set all-time TV numbers for women’s hoops


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