Caitlin Clark and Iowa draw nearly 5 million viewers for second-round NCAA win

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark reacts in the second half of a second-round college basketball game against West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament, Monday, March 25, 2024, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 64-54. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — It didn't take long for Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes to break their viewing record in the women's NCAA Tournament.

The Hawkeyes' 64-54 victory over West Virginia in Monday night's second-round game averaged 4.90 million viewers on ESPN, according to Nielsen, making it the most-viewed women’s tournament game ever — excluding Final Four contests and title games.

The viewership surpassed the 3.23 million who watched Iowa's first-round win over Holy Cross on Saturday on ABC.

Monday night's game is also the most-watched NCAA Tournament game — men's or women's — on cable this year. The previous high was 4.09 million for Houston's overtime victory over Texas A&M Sunday night on TNT.

It was the fourth Iowa women's game this season, and first one on cable, where the viewer average was over 3 million. The others were on Fox, CBS and ABC.

Iowa's Albany 2 Regional semifinal game against Colorado will be on ABC on Saturday afternoon. It should draw another large audience, especially with both men's regional finals not tipping off until the evening.

According to ESPN, Sunday and Monday's second-round games averaged 1.4 million, a 121% increase over last year.

LSU's rally over Middle Tennessee drew 2 million on Sunday on ABC.

UConn's victory over Syracuse, which preceded the Iowa game on ESPN, averaged 2.1 million. Southern California's win over Kansas, which followed Iowa, had 1.8 million.

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AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-womens-bracket/ and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness