VIewership for multiple games during both the Men’s and Women’s College World Series were virtually identical.
Two women’s championship games between Oklahoma and Texas drew 1.58 million viewers, according to ESPN data compiled by Sports Business Journal. Two men’s games between Oklahoma and Ole Miss drew just a smidge more, at 1.59 million.
In totality, last year’s Women’s College World Series drew an average of 1.2 million viewers — almost 60% more than the men’s.
The strong viewership in softball — as well as baseball — could spell more revenue for the NCAA in the future. Its current media rights contract with ESPN — which includes a bundle of 29 championships — is set to expire in 2023-24.
Experts say the NCAA could get much more for sports like women’s basketball in its next contract. The current contract is worth a total of $500 million total, but a gender equity report suggested that women’s basketball alone could be worth $81-112 million annually in 2025.
At the NACDA Convention in Las Vegas, NCAA SVP/CFO Kathleen McNeely told Collegiate Sports Connect she sees revenue growth opportunities for both baseball and softball.