ESPN to air a Women's March Madness pregame show
The GIST: Coming soon to a screen near you: the Women’s March Madness pregame show. Late last week, ESPN announced an hour-long preview that will precede this year’s championship game, which will air on network TV for the first time ever.
The details: ESPN producer Patricia Lowry said the show should attract more viewers for the April 2nd game by providing coverage for women’s basketball diehards and newcomers alike. This will hopefully translate into an even bigger audience than the 4.85M who tuned in to see the South Carolina Gamecocks take the ’ship last year. Slam dunk.
The context: The broadcaster has stepped up its women’s hoops game in recent years, including more national TV slots in primetime and a Final Four presentation with “The Bird & Taurasi Show.” ESPN is going bigger and better during the regular season, too — it will air three “College GameDay” episodes in 2023 after breaking a decade-long drought last year.
Zooming out: A pregame show isn’t just a reward for women’s basketball’s rapidly growing fanbase — it’s also a savvy business move for ESPN. As industry experts told us in this month’s Sports Biz Breakfast, more airtime for women’s sports means new inventory for broadcasters to sell to interested advertisers.
- As Optimum Sports managing director Kristen Gray said, “There's more [women’s sports] on air, there's more places to spend money. Bringing in new lines of coverage brings in new audiences,” especially for tentpole events. Follow the money.