For first time, ABC will broadcast NCAA women’s basketball championship game, in April 2023

The NCAA women’s basketball title game will be broadcast on ABC for the first time this season.

The championship game, which normally airs in prime time, takes place on April 2 at 3:00 p.m. ET. The women’s Final Four will be held in Dallas this year.

“Scheduling the Division I Women’s Basketball Championship on ABC has long been a goal of our ongoing efforts to promote women’s sports in partnership with the NCAA,” said Burke Magnus, ESPN’s president of programming and original content. “The NCAA Women’s Championships continues to attract strong audiences on the ABC/ESPN networks and this move represents another unique opportunity to showcase this marquee event and the student-athletes competing for a national championship. “

ESPN said it would try to bring the game back to prime time in the future, but currently has commitments to entertainment shows on the night of the game.

Last season’s championship game, in which South Carolina defeated UConn, was the most-watched women’s title game in nearly two decades, with 4.85 million viewers. The national semifinals averaged 2.7 million viewers, up 21% from the previous year, and was the most-watched semifinal in a decade. The entire tournament averaged 634,000 spectators, 16% more than last year.

ESPN has aired NCAA women’s tournament games on ABC for the past two seasons, but not the title game.

“It’s a benchmark announcement for women’s basketball to bring the Dallas national championship game to an expanded audience for the first time on ABC in 2023,” said Beth Goetz, NCAA Division I women’s basketball committee chair and athletic director at Ball-State. “We are grateful to ABC/ESPN for their partnership as the game and championship continues to grow.”

Expanded to 68 games last season, the NCAA tournament will host its Regionals in two locations this season, with eight teams playing in Greenville, South Carolina and the other eight in Seattle. The tournament will follow this format until 2027.

The Division II and III championship games are played the same weekend as the Division I Final Four in Dallas. It is the first time since 2016 that the three championships will be held in the same city.