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Suni Lee’s Performance With Auburn Tigers Helps NCAA Gymnastics Overtake NHL in Viewership

Published 04/29/2022, 9:35 AM EDT

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While women’s collegiate gymnastics has always been popular, Saturday’s NCAA Women’s Gymnastics National Championship certainly raised the bar in terms of viewership.

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The 2022 Championships, aired on ABC, drew the event’s largest viewership since the 2011 National Championship on CBS (1.01M). The last year’s title meet aired at 3:30 pm ET on ABC. However, this year it was moved up to an earlier window (1 pm ET) to accommodate ABC’s new Saturday afternoon NHL package. Still, the 2022 Championships showed an 11% increase in viewers from last year’s event, averaging a 0.58 rating and 922,000 viewers, according to Sports Media Watch.



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The women’s collegiate gymnastics event even outdrew its NHL lead-out by 29% in ratings (0.58 to 0.43) and 15% in viewership (922K to 786K). The Oklahoma Sooners taking home the 2022 title drew more eyes than the Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues hockey game.

NCAA Women’s Gymnastics National Championship 2022

The National Championship Final was held at the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas. Currently, collegiate gymnastics still use the 10-point scoring system that was eliminated from the elite level back in 2006. The judges awarded a staggering 69 perfect 10s this season.

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The NIL rule change that went into effect in July 2021 has allowed NCAA athletes to accept sponsorship compensation. Because of this, Olympians can now continue competing at the collegiate level without a hitch. This certainly has played a part in the rising popularity of collegiate gymnastics, currying fans from all over the country.


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In individual events, Trinity Thomas took home the gold in three categories: uneven parallel bars, floor exercise, and all around. Utah’s Jaedyn Rucker won the title on vault after sticking a perfect landing and Auburn’s Suni Lee won the national title on the balance beam. She posted a 9.9625.


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Women’s sports gaining popularity

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With ratings constantly climbing for women’s sporting events, the popularity of female athletes has also been on the rise. TV and sponsorship revenue for women’s sports, while currently well below $1 billion globally, “will grow to be worth a great deal more than a billion dollars in the years ahead”, according to a recent report by the accounting firm Deloitte. 


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TV networks are gradually but steadily realizing the potential of women’s sports in garnering viewership.

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Mansi Jain

377 articles

Mansi Jain is a US Sports author for EssentiallySports. She has a Bachelor's degree in Multimedia and Mass Communication from the University of Delhi and has previously interned for HT Media. When not online, Mansi can be found pursuing the shelves at the nearest bookstore.