South Carolina’s Title Win Smashes Ratings Records in Caitlin Clark’s Finale

April 8, 2024

As the final seconds ticked off in South Carolina’s victory over Iowa, ESPN’s Ryan Ruocco exclaimed, “Perfection with a touch of sweet redemption.”

The line was a chef’s kiss in several ways. Ruocco was celebrating South Carolina exacting revenge for its Final Four loss to Caitlin Clark and Iowa last year, as well as the team’s perfect, undefeated season. But the play-by-play announcer was also saluting the sweet redemption of women’s college basketball finally reaching, and likely surpassing, men’s college hoops.

ABC/ESPN’s telecast of South Carolina’s thrilling 87–75 win over Iowa averaged 18.7 million viewers, ESPN said on Monday. The network said it was the most watched basketball game since 2019, beating the ratings for every sporting event outside of football and the Olympics in that period. It came up just short of the the 19.5 million who watched NBC’s broadcast of the U.S. vs. Brazil gold medal game at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Current South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley was part of that gold-medal-winning American squad. FOS