October 6, 2022 

Locked on Women’s Basketball: FIBA Women’s World Cup final draws record eyes: How does ESPN, women’s basketball learn from this?

Howard Megdal brings you the history and the FIBA Women's World Cup final between USA and China drew 446,000 viewers

It’s time for another episode of the Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast. This episode features host Howard Megdal. The number was strong, even without context: 446,000 people watching the FIBA Women’s World Cup final between USA and China. But wait, this was broadcast in the United States at 2 am ET. It was done without any promotion during the WNBA playoffs, let alone the rest of the ESPN programming.

Howard talks about the FIBA World Cup finals viewership numbers:

“The final for the FIBA Women’s World Cup between USA basketball and China was up 227%. And it averaged 446,000 viewers. Just let that sink in for a minute. Okay, that’s a big number for an international tournament independent of anything else. That number puts things like many of the WNBA playoff games, major league soccer, regular season and playoff games NWSL matches in the rearview mirror. However, that’s just the start of it. This was 446,000 people watching a game that began at 2 am Eastern Time on Oct. 1.”


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Howard talks about the organic audience viewership in the FIBA World Cup finals:

“People may not know this ESPN is actually sports 24/7. And there’s a lot of places where you could promote the FIBA Women’s World Cup. If you wanted to juice the numbers instead of having a pre-existing narrative. And I will be frank. I thought I truly believed that was gonna be a bad number. I know we probably never see it. And a little graphic, you know.

Those of us on the media side are used to it. And it keeps growing on the WNBA side. Oh, look at these numbers up, X percent over this one last year. Audiences is growing. I didn’t think we were getting that. So when that popped up in my inbox, 227%. That wasn’t promotion. That wasn’t placement. That is like you are isolating all the other factors. Pure growth number. That’s what’s happening in women’s basketball over the last four years. We feel it. We see it, we understand it.”


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Written by The Next

1 Comment

  1. Jon Roe on October 6, 2022 at 6:49 pm

    Hi Howard. Nice job, although you sound a little under the weather. Many good points. I watched every game I could, of course, but I also recorded every game, so I was not up at 11, 12, 1 or 2AM. I would imagine many people recorded and watched later. I share your angst over not being able to see any game that did not involve the US. Would have loved to see Gabby and the French team or Kia and the Canadian team or Laura and the Australian team. These games could have been on ESPNU or something, but no….only ESPN+ which I don’t even know how to watch and I wouldn’t pay extra for it anyway. I wonder if anyone will show these games now in retrospect. I’d still watch ’em even though I know the results. But then, I love women’s basketball. I am now gearing up for college ball and the UConn season. I hope you dive deep on them, soon; maybe get Geno on your podcast. How exciting is SC at UConn in Harford going to be??!! I imagine you’ll get to go to that. I’m so jealous. I’m actually looking into trying to get to Knoxville for the UT v UConn game on 1/26. If I can work it out, I might get to see NC State at Louisville on the Sunday before and then travel to Knoxville with my buddy, Bill. Can you help me get a couple tickets to the Summit? When are you going to travel to LA, my friend. Lunch or dinner is on me. Love your work, Howard!

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