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Women outshine men in NCAA final TV viewership

More than 18 million people watched the women’s NCAA final game Sunday as Iowa and star Caitlin Clark lost to South Carolina, according to Nielsen.
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For the first time, more people watched the NCAA women’s basketball final game than the men’s, Nielsen said Tuesday.

The hyped game in which the Iowa Hawkeyes and record-breaking star Caitlin Clark took on, and lost to, No. 1-seeded South Carolina drew more than 18.9 million views Sunday, according to ESPN and the audience rating company.

The men’s Connecticut vs. Purdue game Monday had 4 million fewer viewers, with 14.8 million, Nielsen said.

It was the first time ever that the audience for the women’s final was larger than the men’s, according to Nielsen.

The South Carolina Gamecocks beat the Iowa Hawkeyes in the woman’s final 87-75 and, in so doing, denied Iowa its chance at a first national title.

With the win, South Carolina had the 10th perfect season in the history of Division I women’s basketball.

In the men’s final, defending champs UConn became the first team since 2007 to win back-to-back national titles, beating Purdue on Monday 75-60.

It was UConn's sixth national title overall, and the program joined just three others that have that many or more — UCLA (11), Kentucky (8) and North Carolina (6).

UConn guard Tristen Newton shoots over Purdue guard Myles Colvin, No. 5, and center Zach Edey, No. 15, during the first half of the NCAA men's national championship game Monday in Glendale, Ariz.David J. Phillip / AP

The women's final was shown on ESPN and ABC, while the men's final was shown on TBS, TNT and TruTV.

Both championship games did better than last year in terms of viewership numbers, according to Nielsen.

Viewership for the men's increased by around 129,000 — from 14.694 million last year to 14.823 million, Nielsen said.

The viewership for the women's final shot up from 9.915 million last year to 18.867 million this year, the company said.