OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, USA — The NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS) — the largest softball championship for university students — concluded in the United States with the Oklahoma Sooners’ defeating the Florida Gators in the Finals in a two-game sweep.
USA Softball has hosted the Women’s College World Series since 1990 (with the exception of 1996 when it was played in Atlanta, Ga. ahead of the 1996 Olympic Games) and is scheduled to be the home of the event through 2035. National team members from both USA and Puerto Rico played in the 2017 championship including Kelly Barnhill, Paige Halstead, Delaney Spaulding, Ali Aguilar, Delanie Gourley, and Jenna Lilley (for World’s No. 2 USA), and Sahvanna Jaquish, Aleshia Ocasio, Shemiah Sanchez, Jaime Hoover, Taran Alvero, and Morganne Flores (for World’s No. 7 Puerto Rico).
The sports dedicated television network – ESPN – saw record viewership in their expanded coverage of the entire tournament, including during the regional action. Total live audience (TV + streaming) averaged 1,720,000 viewers, the most-watched sweep in Women’s College World Series Finals history. The Sooner-Gators’ two games in the best-of-three format was up 33% from 2014, the last time the WCWS Finals failed to go to a decisive third game. This year’s two-game average was also up 33% over last season’s WCWS Finals first two games featuring Oklahoma and Auburn. The Sooners won the series in three games.
WCWS Finals Game 1: Sooners-Gators Play in Longest Finals Game Ever
This season’s WCWS Finals saw Oklahoma and Florida play in the longest game in Women’s College World Series Finals history when the first game of the series concluded after 17 innings. The instant-classic averaged a total live audience (TV + streaming) of 1,677,000 viewers, the most-watched WCWS Finals Game 1 ever.
WCWS Finals Shatter Streaming Records
The WCWS Finals set new WCWS streaming records in all three major metrics. The five-hour-plus WCWS Finals Game 1 saw more than 662,000 total users stream 15,000,000 total minutes, easily the highest ever for a WCWS Game. The second game surpassed more than 406,000 total users streaming nearly seven million minutes, the second-best ever for a WCWS game, trailing only the first game of the finals. The two WCWS Finals games also set new individual WCWS records for average minute streaming audience. To no surprise, all three categories and both games were significant increases from last year’s streaming audience.
Entire WCWS Sees Audience Growth
ESPN’s Women’s College World Series coverage – televised in its entirety by ESPN for the 18th straight year – averaged a total live audience of 984,000 viewers across the 14 games, up 21% from last year’s event (15 games, including a three-game WCWS Finals)
Super Regionals Deliver Super Audience
Prior to the WCWS, ESPN televised every game of the Super Regionals (21 games) from May 26-28, averaging 477,000 viewers for just its TV audience, up 34% from last year’s entire presentation (19 games). To begin the NCAA Division I Softball Championship, ESPN produced the entire regional round – 99 games from all 16 sites for the first time ever. The television games in that round averaged 301,000 viewers a game.