A record number of hoops fans tuned in for ESPN's coverage of the NCAA
Women's Basketball Championship game Sunday night.
The contest, in which Connecticut capped a perfect 39-0 season with an 82-70
triumph over Oklahoma, was the most-watched basketball game in ESPN's history --
a total of 5,349 men's and women's games over 23 seasons -- as an average of
3.49 million homes saw Sue Bird and crew sink the Sooners.
The March 31 contest topped the 3.44 million homes that were on board for the
Princeton-Arkansas NCAA Men's Tournament first-round match March 15, 1990,
according to Nielsen Media Research data supplied by the network.
The Women's Championship telecast's 4.1 household rating also was 24 percent
higher than last year's 3.3 rating for the Duke-Purdue final, while viewers
leaped 28 percent from an average of 2.15 million.
All told, the March 29 Women's Final Four -- UConn over Tennessee and
Oklahoma ahead of Duke -- averaged a 2.8 rating and 2.372 million homes, up 8
percent and 10 percent, respectively, over the 2.6 rating and 2.15 million homes
the event attracted in 2001.
As UConn and Oklahoma were trading fast breaks, ESPN2's coverage of the
Cleveland Indians and Anaheim Angels -- the first game of the 2002 Major League
Baseball season -- turned out to be the second-most-viewed baseball contest in
that network's history, averaging 1.15 million homes and a 1.4 rating.
ESPN2's top MLB game remains the Chicago Cubs at the Los Angeles Dodgers Aug.
5, 2001, when some 1.19 million homes watched, translating into a 1.5 household