It’s official: Iowa-LSU was the most-watched women’s college basketball game ever.

According to ESPN’s PR team, the national championship game drew 9.9 million viewers, with a peak of 12.6 million. That’s more than the Sugar and Orange Bowls did this past football season. It’s also the most-watched college game ever streamed on ESPN+, though it did very well on ABC as well, obviously. The previous record for a women’s college basketball game? 5.68 million viewers in 2002.

Those numbers are almost unbelievable.

Why this game in particular? After all, this isn’t the first national championship game since 2002 and the final score favored LSU by 17. What gives?

Caitlin Clark is a pretty strong answer as to why, at least in part. The game has been growing steadily over the past few years, perhaps kickstarted by South Carolina and Dawn Staley.

Clark’s offensive abilities are exciting to watch. Excitement always equals viewers. Even in a losing effort Clark was uber-exciting to watch, dropping 30 points with 8 assists. But it wasn’t just Clark: LSU was knocking down shots at an extremely high rate as well.

And this is just the beginning for women’s college basketball. Now, the country has seen what the sport is like at the highest level. Clark is returning for another season in 2024, as will Angel Reese, Paige Bueckers, Hailey Van Lith, you name it.

It’s truly an exciting time to be a college basketball fan.