If you didn’t tune in to the women’s March Madness this season, then you’re one of the few. This year’s tournament saw historic numbers for the NCAA with one particular lady helping put major cracks in the glass ceiling.
Talent travels fast and Caitlin Clark’s record-breaking season had many eager to watch and see it for themselves. Now, the Iowa Hawkeyes guard has set the tone for the future of women’s hoops. The Caitlin Clark effect is going viral and the timing couldn’t be any better.
things are changing. the comments under this caitlin clark post are … good. pic.twitter.com/tTsqj7aXeE— whitney medworth (@its_whitney) March 27, 2023
Women’s March Madness Viewership Skyrockets To Set Records
Right off the bat, the women’s tournament saw a 30 percent increase in viewership in the second round this season, with Clark’s No. 2 Hawkeyes drawing in the highest audience of 1.5 million during their 74-66 win over the No. 10 Georgia Bulldogs. Then, it just kept growing.
The NCAA Women's National Championship's 9.9 million viewers are more than:— Front Office Sports (@FOS) April 4, 2023
▪️ Any Women's CBB game ever
▪️ Any MLS game ever
▪️ Any Stanley Cup game since 1973
▪️ The 2023 Orange Bowl
▪️ The 2023 Sugar Bowl
▪️ 2023 Thursday Night Football
▪️ The 2021 NBA Finals
▪️ The 2020… pic.twitter.com/X6MGXYkflQ
The championship game became the most-watched NCAA women’s tournament game ever, averaging 9.9 million viewers and peaking at around 12.6 million. It now is set in history as the most-viewed college sporting event ever on the ESPN+ streaming service. Though Clark and Iowa fell to the No. 3 LSU Tigers 102-85 in the final, the six-foot junior stepped off the court with a bucket full of accolades and the priceless title of being a generational player.
Caitlin Clark And All Her Glory
Where do I start? The list is long, and each accomplishment is just as impressive as the next. Clark’s tournament performance was one for the books. The Iowa native now holds records that stand in both women’s and men’s college basketball, including the most points in a single NCAA tournament (193) and earning the first 40-point triple-double ever.
After wrapping up the season leading the nation by averaging 8.6 assists per game, it’s not a shocker the 21-year-old now holds the mark for the most assists (60) in a women’s March Madness tournament. Then, putting up a hell of a fight in the title game, Clark drained eight three-pointers to set a record for the most by a women’s player in the Big Dance.
Her 41-point performance in the Final Four knocked out the No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks, who had won 42 straight games going into that contest and entered March as heavy -275 favorites to win it all. Leading Iowa to its first-ever championship appearance as 3-point favorites, Clark finished averaging 31.8 PPG and 10 APG while dancing, and capped off her season by winning the Wooden Award as national player of the year.
Caitlin Clark has won the 2023 women's Wooden Award as the national player of the year after her record-breaking season 👏 @IowaWBB | #ThatsaW pic.twitter.com/c3ZyxxBYid— ESPN (@espn) April 4, 2023
What Is The Caitlin Clark Effect Doing For Women’s Sports?
Accomplishing something that is long overdue. For decades, women have been advocating for equal broadcasting opportunities to help grow the game. It wasn’t until last season that the women even got the right to use “March Madness”. But the Caitlin Clark effect is putting WNCAAB on the map. The University of Iowa has already had to put ticket sales for next season on pause because of high demand.
The Caitlin Clark effect. 👏 pic.twitter.com/KB50TWp9tw— theScore (@theScore) April 7, 2023
With Clark’s skills turning heads, the excitement surrounding the league couldn’t have come at a better time with ESPN’s current broadcasting contract for the women’s tourney ending next year. The current contract groups the tournament with 28 other NCAA championships, excluding college football and men’s basketball, paying out about $34 million. However, talks have been circulating about investing in the Division 1 women’s tournament separately, estimating it to be worth over $80 million.
A ripple effect is in the works. Female sports fanatics are now sitting back and saying, “I told you so.” With the game getting the attention and promotion it rightfully deserves, that glass ceiling is eventually going to be shattered and the sky will be the limit.
2023 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship Shatters All-Time Attendance Record#NationalChampionship pic.twitter.com/FU5Tx82F5d— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessWBB) April 2, 2023