This year marks the 20th anniversary of ESPN televising the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Final Four exclusively for the first time. Beginning March 17, 1996, ESPN and ESPN2 combined to televise 24 live games from the tournament, the most extensive national exposure for the event at that time. The coverage culminated with ESPN’s exclusive coverage of the Final Four from Charlotte, N.C. The championship game (Tennessee defeated Georgia) was the network’s highest-rated and most-watched women’s basketball game ever (since surpassed), with an audience of 2.54 million homes, based on a 3.7 rating.
Seven years later, ESPN and ESPN2 combined to provide complete 63-game coverage of the 2003 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship, a tournament first.
Today marks the start of ESPN’s exclusive coverage of every game of the Women’s Tournament.