Caitlin Clark’s WNBA debut is most-watched game in two decades


Caitlin Clark drew 2.1 million broadcast viewers for her WNBA debut with the Indiana Fever against the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday, ESPN said, the biggest audience in more than 20 years.

While the Sun won 92-71, the Clark era in the WNBA began with a sellout crowd at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. The game was watched by an average of 2.1 million viewers across ESPN2, ESPN+ and Disney+, the network said on Wednesday.

This was the largest WNBA audience since the 2001 game between the Los Angeles Sparks and Houston Comets. That drew 2.44 million viewers, according to Sports Media Watch.

ESPN, which has had broadcast rights for the league since 2003, said Tuesday’s game was the network’s most watched WNBA game.

Before turning professional, Clark was a fan favourite at the University of Iowa and helped draw an unprecedented 18.7 million viewers for the NCAA Women’s Championship game between Iowa and South Carolina last month. It was the first time in history the NCAA women’s final drew more viewers than the men’s edition, with

Clark was the WNBA first draft pick when she was signed for the Indiana Fever, although her debut did not get off to an ideal start. In front of a sold-out crowd, Fever fell to defeat on the opening night, and Clark herself took almost 15 minutes to score. She also provided 10 of Fever’s 25 turnovers , and got off to an uncharacteristically slow start, missing her first four shots, although she finished with 20 points, she made just five of 15 field goals.

Born in West Des Moines, Iowa, Clark’s rise to the WNBA has been a series of record-breaking feats. Always playing several years above her age group growing up, when she went to Dowling College, she caught national attention by breaking Pete Maravich’s record as the NCAA all-time scoring leader, that had previously stood for 54 years.