Caitlin Clark’s WNBA debut beats NHL playoffs head-to-head in TV viewership – New York Post

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Caitlin Clark continues to be a ratings dynamo.

Her WNBA debut, which saw her Indiana Fever lose 92-71 to the Connecticut Sun, averaged 2.12 million viewers on ESPN2.

This eclipsed the Bruins-Panthers NHL playoff game in the comparable window on ESPN, which drew 1.99 million viewers.

The NHL did slightly edge the WNBA in the 18-49 demographic, getting a .58 compared to .48.

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Caitlin Clark's WNBA debut was the league's most watched game in over 20 years.
Caitlin Clark’s WNBA debut was the league’s most watched game in over 20 years. AP

This is a pretty remarkable number for several reasons.

First, it is rare in and of itself that ESPN2 beats ESPN in primetime.

Second, Sports Media Watch put together a list of the 10 most-watched WNBA games ever — the 10th-ranked game averaged about 2.5 million viewers, and the most recent game on the list was in 2000, long before streaming and smartphone usage ate into the total number of people watching linear TV.

The outlet confirmed this was the most-watched WNBA game in more than 20 years.

For another comparison, last year’s WNBA Finals between the Aces and Liberty averaged 728,000 viewers — the highest total in 20 years.

Beyond the NHL competition, the Fever game was also going against the NBA playoffs on TNT for a portion of its window.


Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) walks down the court after a turnover against the Connecticut Sun during the second quarter of a WNBA basketball game, Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Uncasville, Conn.
Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) walks down the court after a turnover against the Connecticut Sun during the second quarter of a WNBA basketball game, Tuesday, May 14, 2024, in Uncasville, Conn. AP

Not only that, the game was competing with a Pacers-Knicks game, which averaged 4.88 million viewers, and appealed to its own home market.

There was also a full slate of baseball on Tuesday night.

While MLB regular-season games don’t usually light the national TV ratings meters on fire, there are millions of people watching the sport every night locally across the country.

Clark’s games for Iowa this past college basketball season were dramatic outliers, and the national championship game against South Carolina drew a record 18.7 million viewers.

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