This year's women's March Madness garnered all-time highs for viewership and merch sales
The GIST: This year’s women’s March Madness was truly one for the record books. The tournament hit an inflection point with Sunday’s championship game, which garnered all-time highs for viewership and merch sales and cemented LSU champ Angel Reese’s stardom. Here’s March Madness by the numbers:
9.9M: ABC and ESPN2 averaged 9.9M viewers for the championship, a 103% increase (!!!) YoY. Viewership peaked at 12.6M, setting ESPN’s record for a college women's hoops game and ESPN+’s record for any college basketball game.
- The viewership numbers bolster the case that women’s March Madness broadcast rights should be sold on their own, and new NCAA president Charlie Baker likely agrees. “The timing on the bid associated with this is perfect,” he said on Saturday.
100%: Sales for championship gear rose 100% YoY in the hours after LSU nabbed its first ’ship. The Tigers are on pace to become the best-selling women’s college basketball champs ever, with the locker room t-shirt and hat players sported after the dub proving to be the most popular items.
- March Madness has never been easier to watch thanks to better coverage and broadcast slots, which creates a healthy knock-on effect for businesses in the ecosystem, like apparel companies.
1.9M: Reese boasted 1.9M combined social media followers as of Monday afternoon, which nearly doubled from the same time last week. She was also mentioned 500K times on Twitter from last Friday to Monday, reaching 3.84B accounts in the process.
- Reese’s agent Jeanine Ogbonnaya said she’s been flooded with calls from prospective sponsors since Sunday night and that her client’s newfound recognition allows them to focus on long-term deals rather than one-offs. A star is born.