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Badgers-Gophers match was most viewed in volleyball history, surpassing UW’s National Championship in 2021



FILE - Fans attend the championship match of the NCAA women's college volleyball tournament between Wisconsin and Nebraska Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jeff Dean)

The University of Wisconsin volleyball team now has three of the most watched games ever.

The first-ever volleyball match that aired on Fox Sunday night drew the largest viewership in the sport’s history.

The Border Battle between No. 2 Wisconsin and Minnesota wasn’t much of a game — the Badgers won 3-0 — but it drew 1.66 million viewers.

It’s becoming a growing trend, as women’s sports gets the recognition and the platforms it deserves to allow fans to watch — both at home and in person.

Sunday’s match surpassed the previous record, when the Badgers beat Nebraska 3-2 for the 2021 National Championship that aired on ESPN and had 1.2 million views.

Up until Sunday night, those two teams also had the most viewed regular-season match, when the top-ranked Badgers fell to No. 2 Nebraska 3-2 two weekends ago, which drew 612,000 views on the Big Ten Network.

Of course, the Badgers win over the Gophers now makes that game the second-most watched regular-season match.

The popularity of women’s sports is finally getting a foothold on a national stage. Back in August, Nebraska volleyball hosted a match outdoors at the “football” stadium, which saw a record-breaking 92,0003 fans show up. That was the largest crowd at a women’s event in world history.

It also broke another record the Badgers had for largest crowd at an NCAA volleyball match. Nebraska and Wisconsin — again — set that record with 18,755 fans in that 2021 National Title match. The Badgers also had the largest regular-season game until Nebraska played outdoors, with 16,833 fans at the Kohl Center against Florida in 2022.

The Badgers (20-1, 11-1) next game is Wednesday against 19th-ranked Purdue (14-7, 8-4).

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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1 Comment

  1. Kevin

    November 3, 2023 at 9:54 am

    I Rick that you are not paying much attention to the market for women’s sport. Note that the 3 events you call attention to are all volleyball games. They were all games that held national significance from a standings perspective.

    So a fair question to ask: you say, “It’s becoming a growing trend, as women’s sports gets the recognition and the platforms it deserves to allow fans to watch — both at home and in person.”

    Are women’s sports ‘due recognition’ or is the event deserving of attention from the fans because of the competition and significance of the event. I don’t think fans in particular believe that women’s sports, because they are sports ‘deserve or demand attention’ just because they are there. If the contest has good competitors, if there are no per-requisites, if the teams are worthy of support, then they will bring in spectators. In other words, if the contest ‘merits’ the attention it will get it, Otherwise, it’s just another way to part you from your money and time.

    I do understand Rick that with your far left leaning tendencies you may not understand the definition of the word merit.

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