The Caitlin Clark show is coming to the WNBA: 36 of Fever's 40 games will be on national TV

Fans cheer as Iowa's Caitlin Clark arrives for the NCAA Women's championship basketball game against South Carolina
Fans cheer as Iowa's Caitlin Clark arrives for the NCAA women's basketball national championship game between the Hawkeyes and South Carolina on Sunday in Cleveland. (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

Caitlin Clark helped take NCAA women's basketball to unprecedented heights of popularity. Now the WNBA appears ready to see if she can do the same at the professional level.

Weeks before leading Iowa to its second straight NCAA championship game, Clark announced her intention to enter the WNBA draft next week. Naturally, college basketball's all-time leading scorer is widely expected to be selected No. 1 overall, a pick that belongs to the Indiana Fever.

Even though the Fever won a mere 13 games last season, they will play 36 of their 40 games this year in front of a national audience, according to the television and streaming schedule released by the WNBA on Wednesday. That includes eight games on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2, eight on Ion, three on CBS or CBS Sports, 13 on NBA TV and four on Amazon Prime Video.

Read more: $100 a ticket for Sparks game? Caitlin Clark, NCAA tournament ratings drive up WNBA prices

That's more national broadcasts or streams than any other team, including the two-time defending champion Las Vegas Aces (35) and the Commissioner's Cup-winning New York Liberty (31), who also feature last year's MVP, Breanna Stewart.

Sure, there's excitement to see what Clark can do on the same team as Aliyah Boston, last year's No. 1 pick and the WNBA rookie of the year, assuming Clark is drafted by Indiana. But it's clear the WNBA and its partners are hoping Clark can deliver the kind of ratings she did during March Madness.

The last three games for Clark and the Hawkeyes all set viewing records for women's college basketball — 12.3 million viewers watched their Elite Eight win over Louisiana State, 14.2 million watched their Final Four win over Connecticut, and 18.7 million watched their loss to South Carolina in the championship game. All three were on ESPN.

The championship game garnered more viewers than the men's final — Connecticut's win over Purdue on Monday averaged 14.8 million viewers on TNT and TBS — for the first time and was the highest-rated basketball game, college or pro, since 2019.

Read more: Will Caitlin Clark accept Ice Cube's $5-million offer to become BIG3's first woman player?

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.