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Saturday, May 18, 2024

NCAA Women’s Volleyball Championship Draws Record Ratings

  • Sunday’s championship match between Wisconsin and Nebraska drew 1.19 million viewers.
  • It was the most viewers ever for women’s volleyball on any ESPN network.
(Wisconsin-Volleyball-NCAA-ESPN
ESPN/Design: Alex Brooks

Women’s college indoor volleyball continues to put up impressive numbers.

Sunday’s championship match between Wisconsin and Nebraska drew 1.19 million viewers — the most ever for college women’s volleyball on any ESPN network, up 71% from this past spring season and 119% from 2019.

The numbers support a thesis from the NCAA Gender Equity Review: Women’s championship rights are likely worth much more than the $34 million ESPN pays annually for 29 tournaments. 

The report found that the Division I women’s basketball championship alone could be worth between $81 million and $112 million annually. 

Lucrative At All Levels

Both investors and sponsors have begun to notice the potential of women’s volleyball — in college and beyond.

  • The sport ranks in the top five for NIL earnings on Opendorse’s platform.
  • Athletes Unlimited’s inaugural pro women’s indoor volleyball season featured major sponsors like Nike and Gatorade and reached a global television audience.
  • In February, CVC invested a reported $300 million in the International Volleyball Federation.

In the spring, Athletes Unlimited CEO Jon Patricof told Front Office Sports the sport was “like a sleeping giant.” Looks like it’s waking up.

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