Caitlin Clark, Iowa’s tight battle vs. West Virginia in round of 32 averages massive 4.9 million viewers

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Caitlin Clark as a viewership draw just soared to a new level.

No. 1 Iowa’s 64-54 tension filled win over eighth-seeded West Virginia on Monday night — the final home game for Clark at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City — averaged a massive 4.9 million viewers on ESPN. That viewership number shatters the record for the largest television audience for the women’s tournament prior to the Final Four. The previous record was set in — you guessed it — Iowa’s first-round win over Holy Cross on ABC Saturday afternoon. That game drew 3.23 million viewers.

These are truly astounding numbers. As Sports Media Watch noted, Iowa’s win over West Virginia is the third-largest audience for any women’s tournament game in the past 20 years behind last year’s national championship loss to LSU (9.92 million) and its national semifinal win over South Carolina two days earlier (5.60 million).

Sports Media Watch also reported that ESPN’s family of networks has seen other games top the 2-million viewership mark in the early rounds, which is a new frontier for the sport. Connecticut’s win over Syracuse on Tuesday night drew 2.05 million viewers while LSU’s win over Middle Tennessee on ABC on Sunday drew 2.01 million.

Iowa next plays No. 5 Colorado on ABC at 3:30 PM ET on Sunday. No. 3 LSU meets No. 2 UCLA in the game prior to that on ABC at 1:00 p.m. ET.

If LSU and Iowa win, it would set up a national championship rematch on April 1 at 7:15 p.m. ET on ESPN. The definition of can’t-miss viewing.

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(Photo: Matthew Holst / Getty Images)

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