Though it can probably be attributed more to the reach of the NBC broadcast network than to anything else, the USA women’s basketball team pulled in quite the audience Saturday morning.
Saturday’s United States/Croatia Olympic women’s basketball game drew 11.4 million viewers on NBC, according to Sports Business Daily. The telecast aired live in the Eastern and Central time zones and on tape delay in the Mountain and Pacific.
For some perspective, the game drew more viewers than all but one game of the Heat/Celtics NBA Eastern Conference Finals on ESPN earlier this year.
Compared to domestic women’s basketball games, United States/Croatia easily topped the Baylor/Notre Dame Women’s NCAA Tournament title game on ESPN in April (4.244M) and the top game of last year’s Lynx/Dream WNBA Finals (600K).
Not surprisingly, the NBC telecast easily outdrew USA basketball coverage on the NBC Sports Network cable channel. The first two USA men’s basketball games have averaged 2.5 million viewers on NBCSN and two women’s games on the network have averaged 1.5 million.
According to Sports Business Daily, coverage of the USA basketball teams on NBCSN has had a substantial increase in viewership over 2008 coverage on USA Network (up 70% for the men and up 52% for the women). Keep in mind comparisons are to the full 2008 tournament average on USA.
(This year’s numbers from Sports Business Daily)