Who Can Tackle the NFL’s Ratings? Caitlin Clark.

Monday night's Iowa-LSU game averaged 12.3 million viewers on ESPN

Caitlin Clark shoots the ball against LSU.
Many people tuned in to watch Caitlin Clark against LSU.
Getty Images

Early February’s broadcast of Super Bowl LVIII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers on CBS and the network’s various platforms delivered the most-watched telecast in history with 123.4 million viewers. Approximately two months later on April Fools’ Day night, the Elite Eight matchup between the No. 1 seed Iowa Hawkeyes and the No. 3 seed LSU Tigers on ESPN in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament scored one-tenth of the SB LVIII’s viewership with an average of 12.3 million viewers, but it was still a major win.

When it comes to TV ratings, the NFL is king and no other programming ever really comes close. However, Monday night’s matchup between Iowa star Caitlin Clark (41 points and 12 assists) and LSU star Angel Reese (17 points and 20 rebounds) beat the NFL’s average weekly ratings for Thursday Night Football, which airs exclusively on Amazon Prime and had 11.86 million viewers on average, in 2023, according to ProFootballTalk.

And Iowa’s 94-87 win over LSU didn’t just notch a win over the NFL in the ratings department. Monday night’s Elite Eight matchup, the most-watched women’s college basketball ever, outdrew the clinching game of last year’s World Series (11.48 million) between the Rangers and Diamondbacks and all but one of the five games in the NBA Finals between the Nuggets and Heat. As for the NHL, they’d kill for the Stanley Cup ratings to even sniff the audience that Clark can attract.

Future WNBA Player Caitlin Clark to Star in Ice Cube’s Big3 League Too?
There’s a lucrative offer on the table for the Iowa Hawkeyes phenom

‌The Caitlin Clark Effect is carrying over onto social media as well. According to data from Tubular Labs, videos about Clark generated 92.2 million YouTube views from November 1, 2023, through April 1, 2024, and the audience has been diverse. “The audience for Clark-focused videos supports the idea that women’s basketball audiences are actually a broad group,” according to TVRev. “On YouTube, 85% of those that watched videos about Clark since Nov. 1 were men. In general, audiences for videos about Clark have a significant overlap with ‘mainstream’ sports coverage.”

Will Iowa taking on UConn and their star player Paige Bueckers on Friday night in Cleveland in the Final Four put up numbers approaching the Super Bowl? Of course not. Hawkeyes-Huskies may not even beat out Iowa-LSU (which had more viewers than Sunday’s Purdue-Tennessee game in the men’s tournament and the final round of the 2023 Masters). But the Clark Effect is real…and she’s about to turn pro in the WNBA.

“It will be interesting to see how high the numbers will go in the semifinal rounds against Connecticut and, if Iowa makes it, the championship,” according to PFT. “It shows that women’s college basketball has arrived as a major sport. It also shows that star power delivers, and Iowa has it in Caitlin Clark.”

Win the Ultimate Formula 1® Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix Experience

Want the F1 experience of a lifetime? Here’s your chance to win tickets to see Turn 18 Grandstand, one of Ultimate Formula 1® Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix’s most premier grandstands!