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An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

An upbeat website for a downtown school

the Southerner Online

The Georgia Student Finance Commission collaborated with 49 Georgia colleges to waive application fees in March. This removed barriers for Midtown students who were previously unable to apply to certain colleges.
Georgia Colleges waive application fees, remove barriers
Brennan FrittsApril 15, 2024

The Georgia Student Finance Commission partnered with nearly 50 colleges throughout Georgia to waive their application fees during March. Midtown...

Collegiate women’s basketball should have had its own media deal

The+LSU+Tigers+won+the+2023+Womens+March+Madness+National+Championship+in+a+game+that+averaged+9.9+million+viewers%2C+the+most+in+womens+collegiate+basketball+history.
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The LSU Tigers won the 2023 Women’s March Madness National Championship in a game that averaged 9.9 million viewers, the most in women’s collegiate basketball history.

With the NCAA’s current media deal with ESPN ending in 2024, many people thought that the growth of women’s basketball would be capitalized on by separating them from the rest of the deal. By not doing this, the NCAA slowed down the growth of women’s basketball attention.

Women’s collegiate basketball as a market has grown tremendously in the past couple of years, shown by Angel Reese being the seventh highest paid NIL athlete of 2023, bringing  in $1.7 million. Many recent games have also broken records, with the semi-final games of the Women’s March Madness Tournament in 2023 bringing in an average of 5.5 million and 3.4 million viewers, making them the two most viewed collegiate basketball games, mens or womens, on ESPN+ ever. The finals of the tournament, LSU versus Iowa, which was the first ever time the NCAA women’s finals had aired on ABC, averaged 9.9 million viewers, making it the most viewed women’s college basketball game in history.

This growth didn’t stop after the tournament, with games this season continuing to receive high viewership numbers when they are actually aired. On Jan. 25, South Carolina and LSU faced off in the battle of the SEC Superteams. This game averaged 1.6 million viewers, which was more than either NBA game televised that same night.

There have been four other games this season that have surpassed over a million viewers, with Iowa versus Ohio State on Jan. 21 averaging 1.9 million viewers and Iowa versus Maryland on Feb. 4 averaging 1.6 million viewers. These three games have also broken into the top five most viewed college basketball games of 2024, joining with two men’s games to round it out. 

Women’s college basketball’s current media deal loops them in with 28 other sports and their tournaments, competing for airtime. Because of this, women’s basketball is not able to air as many games as the viewership numbers it produces should allow them too, but this current deal expires in September of 2024, and this was seen as a chance for women’s basketball to break out from the group.

Men’s college basketball currently has a TV deal with CBS and Turner Sports, and collegiate football has a Playoffs deal with ESPN, but each conference also has its own deals with varying networks for the regular season.

Many people, including South Carolina’s head coach Dawn Staley and UCLA’s head coach Cori Close, said that, with this media deal ending, it would be the perfect time to start to really capitalize on the fanbase and growth of collegiate women’s basketball. By separating basketball from the other sports, more games would be aired and the accessibility of watching would skyrocket.

According to a report by Ed Desser and John Kosner, the value of the Women’s March Madness Tournament should be between 81 and 112 million dollars a year. In this media deal, though, the tournament is only valued at $65 million. 

This undervaluing of the sport leads to less games being put on television, which makes it more difficult for people to watch. Because less people can watch, the sport isn’t able to grow as much as it has shown it deserves too. By having its own media deal in college, women’s basketball as a whole would grow at all levels, ranging from youth all the way to professional.

Overall, this was the perfect opportunity for the NCAA to embrace the value and growth of women’s basketball. By not embracing it, they are continuing to push women’s basketball to not be valued at where it should be. 

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About the Contributor
Sinclair Richman
Sinclair Richman, Sports Associate Managing Editor
Sinclair Richman is a junior and this is her third year writing for The Southerner. In her free time, she plays basketball and soccer for Midtown and is a part of the BETA Club and Latin club. She is excited to continue working on the paper.

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