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ESPN draws record ratings for 2023 Women’s Final Four and South Carolina-Iowa with Caitlin Clark

The Women’s semifinals slate was the most watched in ESPN history.

Caitlin Clark of the Iowa Hawkeyes celebrates after the Iowa Hawkeyes beat the South Carolina Gamecocks 77-73 during the 2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Final Four semifinal game at American Airlines Center on March 31, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The “Caitlin Clark effect” is a real thing and don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise. After LSU toppled Virginia Tech 79-72, and Iowa upset South Carolina 77-73, the 2023 Women’s Final Four is already setting record ratings for the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in Sports.

Friday night’s slate became the most-viewed NCAA Women’s basketball semifinals (4.5M average viewers) in ESPN history. The matchup between the Hawkeyes and Gamecocks recorded 5.5M average viewers with a peak of 6.6M. The Tigers and Hokies averaged 3.4M viewers respectively, with a peak at 5M.

Iowa’s star finishing with 41 points and eight assists, being accountable for every single point scored by the Hawkeyes in the fourth quarter of an incredible game, probably had something to do with it.

Both games were the most viewed ever on ESPN+ (men’s or women’s) and represented a collective 66% increase in viewership year over year across all ESPN platforms. All eyes will be tuning in for Sunday’s championship matchup, where another viewership record being broken has to be on the table at this point.