The NCAA has recently entered into a groundbreaking 8-year media rights deal with ESPN valued at $920 million dollars. This deal will cover 40 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championships, according to Front Office Sports. With the growth of the women’s March Madness Tournament, this newly updated contract nearly triples the current package set at $35 million per year for 29 championships.
This breakthrough agreement, about $115 million dollars annually, is providing not just more coverage of women’s games but also pre-game, post-game, and long-form content.
With the surge in popularity, largely in part to schools like LSU and Iowa, there has been record-breaking viewership numbers. Last year’s NCAA Women’s March Madness Championship game between the Tigers and Hawkeyes averaged 9.9 million views, according to The Athletic. That number was higher than the average viewership of the 2023 Major League Baseball World Series (The Street).
This deal just scratches the surface of what is to come for women’s basketball, and women’s sports in general. The men’s basketball deal stands at $1.1 billion dollars per year, so gender inequalities are not completely eliminated with this deal. However, broadcasting more women’s games on ESPN and placing women’s basketball into the spotlight will allow for a larger audience to be reached and only amplify the popularity of female players.