The University of Nebraska's women's volleyball team is attracting unprecedented attention. Not only did it shatter the attendance record for a women's college sports event after selling out Nebraska's Memorial Stadium — an 82,900-seat football stadium — back in August, but now more people are tuning in to watch it than Nebraska's football team.
Saturday's match between Nebraska — the five-time NCAA champion and country's No. 2-ranked women's volleyball team — and the No. 1-ranked Wisconsin club was the most-watched regular season volleyball match ever. It also was the largest volleyball audience in Big Ten Network history. In addition, the match's viewership also surpassed that of Nebraska's football game on Saturday — by a wide margin.
According to Front Office Sports, Saturday night's Nebraska-Wisconsin volleyball match — which Nebraska won in a thrilling five-set affair — averaged 612,000 TV viewers on the Big Ten Network. Nebraska's football game against Northwestern, on the other hand (which aired at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday), averaged 560,000 viewers. The volleyball match aired at 8 p.m. ET.
Saturday's Nebraska-Wisconsin volleyball game averaged 612,000 viewers ? the largest regular season college volleyball audience ever.
It's also more than the Nebraska football game earlier that day on the same network. pic.twitter.com/X2MSE4oNlI
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) October 24, 2023
The Nebraska-Wisconsin battle was the first time that a volleyball match has exceeded 600,000 viewers on the Big Ten Network. The previous high came on Black Friday of 2022, when 587,000 viewers watched the same two teams.
Big Ten Network was stoked about the volleyball match's success.
"It was a tremendous introduction to Big Ten volleyball for any first-time viewers, who will undoubtedly be back to watch more Big Ten volleyball during the final five weeks of the season. We believe there is still plenty of room for more growth," Big Ten Network executive Michael Calderon said.
Considering that Nebraska's football team is just 4-3 on the season and 2-2 in Big Ten play, perhaps it's best for Nebraska fans to focus their enthusiasm on volleyball.
In fact, it seems they may already be doing so. Big Ten volleyball viewership is up 13% from 2022, with an average of 142,000 viewers.
The next match for Nebraska volleyball — which is now 19-0 on the year and the nation's new No. 1-ranked team after their win against Wisconsin — is at home Friday against Maryland. Then they play at home against Rutgers one day later. Nebraska's football team plays on that Saturday, too.
Luckily for football, their game will be over before the volleyball match begins.
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