BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) – LSU’s 102-85 victory over Iowa in Sunday’s national championship game was the most-viewed NCAA women’s basketball game on record, with 9.9 million viewers on ABC and ESPN2 according to fast national numbers by Nielsen.
The total audience is a 103% jump over last year, when South Carolina defeated UConn and averaged 4.85 million on ESPN and ESPN2. The audience on Sunday at one point peaked at 12.6 million.
LSU’s first national title in women’s basketball was the first on network television since UConn’s win over Tennessee in 1995. That game averaged 7.4 million on CBS.
ESPN took over the rights to the entire tournament the following year. The previous network high for a women’s national championship game was in 2002, when UConn beat Oklahoma.
The record ratings come as the NCAA is deciding whether to separate the women’s tournament or keep it as part of the championships TV package that includes at least 24 sports. That contract expires next year, with the NCAA expected to decide the next steps in negotiations by the fall.