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Clark, Iowa claim another record with most-viewed first-round game in women's NCAA tourney history

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark (22) drives to the basket as she is double-teamed by Holy Cross guards Kaitlyn Flanagan (5) and Bronagh Power-Cassidy (13) in the second half of a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 23, 2024, in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa won 91-65. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) — Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes can claim another record — the most-viewed first-round game in women's NCAA Tournament history.

The Hawkeyes' 91-65 win over Holy Cross on Saturday averaged 3.23 million viewers on ABC, according to Nielsen. The viewership surpassed the 2.50 million who watched last year’s Elite Eight game between Iowa and Louisville, making this the most-viewed women's tournament game ever — excluding Final Four contests and title games.

It was the third Iowa game this season where the viewer average was over 3 million. The seven Iowa games on network television — ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox — have averaged 2.27 million. Iowa's regional semifinal game against Colorado on Saturday will be on ABC.

According to ESPN, 1.5 billion total minutes were viewed on television and streaming platforms during the first round. That is the most on record in women's tournament history and a 70% increase over last year.

Connecticut’s game against Jackson State, which preceded the Iowa contest, averaged 1.1 million on ABC, the third-most viewed first-round game on record.

Defending champion LSU's win over Rice on Friday averaged 762,400 on ESPN, making it the most-watched weekday first-round game on record.

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AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-womens-bracket/ and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness