If you build it, they will come. The NCAA women’s basketball tournament has been built up recently as TV executives have decided to give women’s basketball a chance on their stations. The NCAA women’s basketball title game will reportedly be aired on ABC next season, per the NCAA.
The 2023 women’s Final Four will be played at American Airlines Center in Dallas, with the title game being slated for 3 p.m. on April 2. ESPN will air the semifinal on Friday, March 31. This will be the first non-cable appearance for the women’s title game since ESPN bought the broadcasting rights in 1996. CBS owned the rights the year before.
“Scheduling the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship on ABC has been a goal for quite some time in our ongoing efforts to maximize the exposure of women’s sports in collaboration with the NCAA,” ESPN president Burke Magnus said in a statement. “Women’s NCAA Championships continue to generate strong audiences across the ABC/ESPN networks, and this move represents yet another unique opportunity to showcase this marquee event and the student-athletes who are competing for a national championship.”
ESPN began airing the two first-round select tourney games on ABC in 2021, including two first-round matches and four Sweet 16 games on the network. ESPN added two more regular-season games and numerous tournament games to its women’s basketball slate.
The decision to air the women’s championship game after last year’s Final Four games drew 2.7 million viewers (up 21 percent year-over-year), and the bout between South Carolina and UConn earned the highest ratings (4.85 million viewers) for a men’s or women’s game on ESPN since 2008. Full tournament coverage drew 634,000 viewers, up 16 percent from last year’s coverage.
“It’s a benchmark announcement for women’s basketball in being able to showcase the national championship game in Dallas for an expanded audience on ABC for the first time in 2023,” said Beth Goetz, chair of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee and director of athletics at Ball State. “We are grateful to ABC/ESPN for the partnership in the continued growth of the game and championship.”
South Carolina will look to start its title defense with a home game against Texas A&M.
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