April 4, 2023 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: 2023 Women’s Final Four TV ratings shocker; NWSL beats WNBA to Bay Area 

Howard and Alex discuss the record-breaking 9.9 million viewership for the women's championship game — social media, NWSL news and more

It’s time for another episode of the Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast. 9.9 million! That’s how many watched Iowa and LSU do battle in the 2023 Final Four national title game on Sunday. It’s not just a record. It’s a paradigm shift. Bay Area New Group’s Alex Simon joins host Howard Megdal to discuss Simon’s stories on this, from the audience growing in women’s college basketball and what it means to the consequences of NWSL, not the WNBA, planting a flag first in the Bay Area.

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Alex talks about the record-breaking viewership for the women’s championship game:

“I think we knew it was gonna be a big number, right? The previous record had been close to 6 million but under the 6 million mark. Even I read Paulson and Sports Media Watch, which does excellent work in this space, predicted a number of 7.12 million. So it was predicted to break any record at head, but 9.9 shatters records and honestly, at Sports Media Watch, they did the comparison. That’s more than anybody has watched any single NHL game has gotten in the last 50 years, let alone any MLB playoff game or any NBA playoff games that are not the championship rounds for those two sports.

It’s a number that the gravity of its largest is probably shaking a lot of people’s mindsets out of whatever preconceived box they had put women’s sports because this number, this is, I checked this before, this is the third largest audience out of any men’s game from the first two weekends, there was only two men’s games in the college tournament that were bigger than that. And it was the Sunday 5:15 network television spot.”

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Alex talks about misogyny in sports:

“It’s baked in misogyny from just years of being put in a very specific window in a very specific lane and look like a lot of choices have been made on the NCAA side that have, I think, borne incredible fruit. I think the decision at one point to switch from a Sunday, Tuesday, Final Four weekend to a Friday, Sunday has turned out to be a brilliant decision. And if you look, Monday morning, if you were watching across the various ESPN platforms that have First Take. Now, mind you, the championships on ESPN entity. But, like, in the past, there have been times where even the championship being an ESPN entity meant that they would lead with the men’s coverage. And still, then come back to the thing that ESPN itself shows.

First Take, all of those shows were constantly about this. On the Monday of the men’s national championship game, they were talking about a game that already happened on the women’s side; that was the discussion leader and even just kind of culturally and anecdotally, to see that shift is only it’s kind of the numbers beget the culture be getting all of this, but these things are happening concurrently. And it really couldn’t be timed better for the NCAA and for the college game to radically shift here coming forward.”

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