Women’s March Madness gains traction on national television

With hopes of a separate television contract in upcoming negotiations, the women’s NCAA tournament continues to gain momentum.

The national title game returns to network television for the first time since 1995 with an April 2 ABC show from Dallas and an hour-long pregame show.

ABC will show at least six matches from the women’s tournament, including two first-round matches on Saturday and two second-round matches on Sunday.

“By putting it on ABC, we give it the best chance of success,” said Dan Ochs, who runs ESPN’s women’s basketball program. “This tournament continues to grow and bring us something.”

South Carolina’s 64-49 win over Connecticut in last year’s title game averaged 4.85 million viewers on ESPN — the most-watched women’s championship game since 2004. It was also the fourth-largest audience for the title game since the network began broadcasting the entire tournament in 1996.

The 2022 women’s tournament overall averaged 634,000 spectators per game, a 16% increase over 2021, with many of the rounds recording their highest averages in more than 10 years.

ESPN has every reason to believe those numbers may be increasing: The network’s regular-season games averaged over 190,000 viewers, making it the most-watched regular season since 2015. And a Feb. 12 matchup between two undefeated teams, in which South Carolina tops LSU, was the most-watched women’s game of the regular season since 2010, averaging 1.47 million viewers.

Promotion for the tournament has sold out for the second straight year, according to ESPN, with 15 broadcast sponsors and nearly 100 advertisers.

It is the third year that all women’s NCAA tournament games have national airtime between ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPNews. The staggered start times and multiple channels put it on par with the men’s tournament in terms of access.

Up until 2019, ESPN used regional windows in the first two rounds, with games running primarily on ESPN or ESPN2.

ESPN’s current deal to broadcast the women’s tournament expires next year. At the moment the women’s tournament is part of a package with 28 other title events and does not include the men’s tournament. ESPN pays $34 million a year for the championship package it agreed to in 2011.

The NCAA is expected to decide by the fall whether the women’s tournament will become a separate entity, along with the division of the other championships.

Source : www.washingtontimes.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *