Monday, May 27, 2024

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA regular-season debut with Indiana Fever gets historic TV viewership

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If Game 1 of the Caitlin Clark era in the WNBA is any indication, fans will be watching – and in record numbers.

Tuesday night’s Indiana Fever-Connecticut Sun game, Clark’s regular-season debut, drew an average audience of 2.13 million viewers, ESPN announced, making it the most watched WNBA game in almost 23 years. The game, a 92-71 Sun victory, was broadcast on ESPN2 and also available on ESPN Deportes, and available for streaming on ESPN+.

Clark’s debut was the most-watched WNBA broadcast since the 2001 Memorial Day game between the Los Angeles Sparks and Houston Comets averaged 2.45 million viewers for NBC, according to Sports Media Watch.

The Fever-Sun game, however, did break a record for the most-watched WNBA game on the ESPN networks, which includes ABC, easily surpassing the 2004 debut of WNBA star Diana Taurasi, which drew an average of 1.43 million viewers.

Clark’s debut outperformed the NHL playoff broadcast in the same slot Tuesday night, with the Boston Bruins’ victory over the Florida Panthers drawing an average of 1.99 million viewers on ESPN, per the network.

Still, the Fever-Sun game ranked third Tuesday night for sports broadcasts, according to Sports Media Watch; the two NBA playoff games on TNT — the Knicks-Pacers game (4.88) and Nuggets-Timberwolves game (4.51) — ranked first and second.

Clark struggled at times in an uneven debut. She scored 20 points – tied for the game-high – on 5-of-15 shooting, while adding three assists and two steals. But ,she fell into early foul trouble in the first quarter and committed a game-high 10 turnovers, which was only five fewer than the entire Sun team.

The Fever will play the New York Liberty Thursday night in their home opener at the Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

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