CivicScience’s pre-tournament data hinted at a surge in anticipation for NCAA women’s March Madness. That bore out in record fashion in the championship game which saw Dawn Staley-coached University of South Carolina cap off its undefeated season by besting the Caitlin Clark-led University of Iowa. Despite the loss, it was a record-breaking season for Clark that culminated in her being selected first overall in the WNBA draft last week. 

Clark-mania has seemingly only just begun as WNBA ticket prices balloon and an opposing team has been forced to relocate to a bigger venue in anticipation of her arrival. But was she the sole reason for the jump in women’s basketball interest? What does her arrival to the pro ranks mean for women’s sports as a whole? Here are a few key consumer insights with the WNBA season just weeks away:

Caitlin Clark was the overwhelming draw, but she was far from alone in generating interest.

CivicScience data highlight Caitlin Clark as the driving force behind increased viewership of women’s college basketball this past season – 64% of U.S. adults who tuned into the NCAA more than they typically would this past season said Clark was the main reason for doing so. However, it’s worth noting that other standout players from the WNBA draft also contributed to this surge in interest. Angel Reese, who was picked seventh overall in the WNBA (27%), Kamilia Cardoso, drafted third overall (18%), and Cameron Brink, who followed Clark as the second pick in the draft (15%), each played a role in captivating audiences as well. Additionally, the leadership of coach Dawn Staley from champion South Carolina also sparked excitement.

Join the Conversation: Would you travel to see Caitlin Clark play?

Looking ahead to May 14, when WNBA action begins, additional CivicScience data find 37% of Americans report they’re at least ‘somewhat’ likely to watch the WNBA with Caitlin Clark now in the league. This compares to 23% of U.S. adults who said they followed the WNBA at least ‘somewhat’ closely in April of 2023. Forty-one percent of men say they’re likely to watch the WNBA this year with the addition of Caitlin Clark, seven percentage points higher than women who say the same.

Clark’s impact on the game will bring new opportunities for brands and advertisers. Here are just three insights about consumers who are likely to watch the WNBA now that Caitlin Clark is in the league:

  • Among those anticipated to tune into the WNBA after Clark’s debut, the majority (54%) currently dedicate 1-5 hours per week on average to watching sports on TV, while 25% who watch 5+ hours per week.
  • Forty-four percent of those likely to watch the WNBA as a result of Caitlin Clark prioritize brand over price when shopping for health and beauty products, 22 points higher than those unlikely to watch. 
  • Likely WNBA viewers are more than three times as likely as non-viewers to have an interest in non-alcoholic beverages, such as mocktails and NA beer.

Clark’s influence is reshaping women’s sports landscape as a whole.

It’s clear that Caitlin Clark can drive viewership and excitement, but what about the sports she’s not playing in? Among those who watch sports, a noteworthy 41% report an increased interest in watching a women’s sport as a result of Caitlin Clark – nearly half of those (21%) say they have a greater interest in watching women’s sports overall. 

Take Our Poll: Is Caitlin Clark lifting women’s sports?

It’s impossible to deny that Caitlin Clark is already an impactful figure on the game of basketball before she even steps foot on a WBNA court, though she’s not alone in generating an elevated level of excitement for the game. Those consumers likely to tune in to watch her play have distinct tastes and preferences that should not be overlooked as the season begins and beyond. 

Want more in-depth, forward-looking insights like these? CivicScience clients have access to the InsightStore™ database of over 500K questions that help them stay ahead of the game. See it in action here.