March Madness ratings 2024: Iowa-LSU rematch sets record as most-watched women’s college basketball game

The kids are all right, especially in the eyes of the ratings.

Viewership across March Madness has continued to soar in 2024, with some record-breaking numbers that will make the many executives smile from ear-to-ear. The big ratings are surely helped out by the presence of some fantastic storylines and matchups, which only add to the intrigue. 

The Sporting News looks at the ratings in 2024 across the men’s and women’s brackets and why those numbers are certain to keep growing. 

MORE: Everything to know about teams in 2024 Final Four

Men’s March Madness ratings

DJ Burns Jr. and NC State have captured the public heart, continuing to wear Cinderella’s slipper with pride — all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed. 

The Wolfpack took the win on the hardwood and in the ratings book with 15.1 million viewers for their clash with Duke on Easter Sunday — the most-watched Elite Eight game in five years. The hype is at an all-time high as Zach Edey and Purdue await in Phoenix.

Speaking of those Boilers, No. 1 seed Purdue has finally exorcised the demons, securing their first trip to the Final Four in 44 years. After years of early exits and heartbreaking losses, Matt Painter’s team has a great shot to cut down the nets for the first time in their history. 

Alabama’s explosive offense and UConn’s unprecedented dominance also find themselves in the must-see TV category, especially as the latter try to become champions in back-to-back seasons.

It’s part of a tournament that has delivered big numbers throughout, averaging 9.4 million viewers — a four percent increase over last year.

With storylines aplenty and with two of the best teams all season still standing, we should expect a big finish no matter the matchup. 

MORE: Will NC State breakout star DJ Burns Jr. get drafted?

Women’s March Madness ratings

Caitlin Clark and Iowa have managed to bring back appointment television.

The ratings — which continue to explode as the women’s game grows in popularity — prove that. Iowa’s Sweet 16 matchup against Colorado drew an average of 6.9 million viewers, a record for a women’s tournament game prior to the Final Four. 

Not only has Clark played a major role, but her competition has as well. In an era where college athletes transfer for better NIL opportunities or declare for the draft after one season, women’s basketball sees the development of their players and rivalries more than their male counterparts.

Look no further than a rematch between last year’s championship game between Iowa and LSU. The hype for a matchup between the rivals, Clark and Angel Reese, found itself as arguably the biggest event in sports on a Monday night that featured plenty of MLB action in addition to NBA and NHL playoff races among a variety of other things. 

And the ratings didn’t disappoint, with ESPN reporting a whopping 12.3 million viewers tuning in to watch Iowa vs. LSU. It is reportedly the most-watched college basketball game in ESPN’s history and also the most-watched women’s basketball game on record. 

Numbers like those make the meteoric rise of women’s basketball an undeniable reality. For reference, the 2023 NBA Finals averaged 11.64 million viewers on ABC, the 2023 World Series turned in just 9.11 million viewers on Fox and the 2023 Stanley Cup Final posted just 2.6 million on Turner Networks. 

Those storylines across the women’s game have marinated over time and are delivering big time in terms of ratings and interest. With a Final Four that features undefeated South Carolina, Caitlin Clark, and Paige Bueckers’ comeback tour on a UConn team that’s trying to cut down the nets in both tournaments, the arrow is certainly pointed up. 

MORE: Teams, odds and more to know for 2024 Women’s Final Four

Men’s March Madness remaining schedule

Here is a look at the remaining schedule for the men’s side of March Madness:

Final Four

Saturday, April 6

Game Time (ET) TV/Live stream
NC State vs. Purdue 6:09 p.m. TBS, Sling
Alabama vs. UConn 8:49 p.m. TBS, Sling

National championship

Monday, April 8

Game Time (ET) TV/Live stream
TBD vs. TBD 9 p.m. TBS, Sling

Women’s March Madness remaining schedule

Here is a look at the remaining schedule for the women’s side of March Madness:

Final Four

Friday, April 5

Game Time (ET) TV/Live stream
NC State vs. South Carolina 7 p.m. ESPN, Sling
Alabama vs. UConn 9:30 p.m. ESPN, Sling

National championship

Sunday, April 7

Game Time (ET) TV/Live stream
TBD vs. TBD 9 p.m. ABC, Sling

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