ESPN Airs Most-Watched Game across All Networks, Sets New Conference Tournament Records and Delivers Multiple Year-over-Year Audience Increases During College Basketball’s Champ Week

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ESPN Airs Most-Watched Game across All Networks, Sets New Conference Tournament Records and Delivers Multiple Year-over-Year Audience Increases During College Basketball’s Champ Week

  • Network airs Most-Watched Championship, Semifinal and Quarterfinal Game Among all Networks
  • ACC Tournament:
    • Championship: Most-Watched Champ Week Game all networks
    • Semifinal: North Carolina-Duke: Second Most-Watched ACC Semifinal on Record
    • Quarterfinal: North Carolina-Miami & Notre Dame-Duke: Two Most-Watched ACC Quarterfinals on Record 
  • Big 12 Tournament: Most-Watched Championship Game in 16 Seasons 
  • SEC Tournament: Selection Sunday’s Most-Watched Championship Game


ESPN’s Champ Week viewership set the pace among all networks, as it aired the most-watched game, broke conference tournament records and delivered year-over-year audience increases.

ESPN Viewership Sets the Pace in All Rounds of Conference Tournament; ESPN and ESPN2 Draw Biggest Cable Audiences
In addition to televising the most-watched game overall, ESPN aired three of the four most watched championship games, the most-watched semifinal from any conference and the most-watched quarterfinal from any conference. Among cable competitors, ESPN and ESPN2 easily set the pace, combining to air the 20 most watched conference championship games and the most watched 139 games overall, counting regular season.

ACC Championship Earns Sport’s Highest Audience; Big 12 Championship Delivers One of Its Best Audience Ever
The ACC Tournament Championship between North Carolina and Virginia (March 10, 8:30 p.m.) delivered a Nielsen reported audience of 3,435,000 viewers, the most-watched game of champ week across any network. The Tar Heels-Cavaliers game is also the fourth most-watched ACC Championship on record, which dates back to 1998.

The Big 12 Championship between West Virginia and Kansas (March 10, 6 p.m.) delivered a Nielsen reported audience of 2,852,000 viewers, the most-watched Big 12 Champ game in 16 seasons and the second most-watched Big 12 Tournament Championship game on record. In addition to being the third most-watched game of Champ Week across all networks, the Mountaineers-Jayhawks audience was up 24% from last year’s Big 12 Tournament Championship and up 18% from the same matchup in the Big 12 Championship two years ago.

Together, ESPN averaged 3,150,000 viewers for the Big 12 and ACC Championship, the best average viewership for the Big 12/ACC Tournament Championship doubleheader since the format began in 2015.

SEC Championship Sets the Pace on Selection Sunday
Selection Sunday featured the SEC Championship between Kentucky and Tennessee (March 11, 1 p.m.), which averaged 2,553,000 viewers, the most-watched conference championship game on Sunday across all networks.

North Carolina-Duke ACC Tournament Semifinals Deliver for Second Consecutive Year
Friday night’s ACC Semifinal between North Carolina and Duke averaged 2,823,000 viewers, the second most-watched ACC Semifinal on record, which dates back to 1998. Now, the two most-watched ACC Semifinals in the last 20 seasons are Tar Heels-Blue Devils matchups and have occurred in consecutive years.

Most-Watched ACC Quarterfinals Ever
ESPN set a new viewership record for the ACC Quarterfinals (March 8) as Miami-UNC (9 p.m.) and Notre Dame-Duke (7 p.m.) became the two most-watched ACC Quarterfinal games on record, averaging 1,729,000 and 1,706,000 viewers respectively.  Together, they averaged 1,718,000 viewers and rank as the most-viewed ACC Primetime Quarterfinals on record, up 42% from last season’s ACC Primetime Quarterfinals.

ESPN Delivers One of its Most-Watched Champ Weeks
Champ Week games on ESPN averaged 1,370,000 viewers, a top five most-watched Champ Week in ESPN’s history.

Please note: All games aired on ESPN unless noted

ESPN is Home for NCAA Women’s Championship
ESPN, for the 31st consecutive year, will provide exclusive coverage of the NCAA Division I Women’s Championship presented by Capital One, beginning Friday, March 16, with the first round, through the Women’s Final Four in Columbus, Ohio (March 30 and April 1). Tournament action tips off with four matchups at noon on Friday, available on ESPN2 and the ESPN App. The first and second rounds are hosted by the top-16 seeds, with this year’s regional rounds being played in Albany, N.Y., Lexington, Ky., Kansas City, Mo., and Spokane, Wash.

All 63 games will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2, and available to stream via the ESPN App, with regionalized coverage for the first and second rounds on ESPN2. The regional semifinals will be played on ESPN and ESPN2, with regional finals airing on ESPN. The Women’s Final Four will take place Friday, March 30 (7 p.m. ET & 9 p.m., ESPN2), and Sunday, April 1 (6 p.m., ESPN) from Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.


Media contact: Derek Volner at 860-384-9986; [email protected] and @DerekVolner



Derek Volner

I work in college sports, which includes football and basketball, with an emphasis on Olympic Sports. Additionally, I handle ESPN’s coverage of high school athletics and recruiting.
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