Omaha Productions' Full Court Press and Basketball Phenom Caitlin Clark Usher in New Era in Women's Sports


Full Court Press

Photo : Omaha Productions

The 2024 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship game was a benchmark in the history of women's sports. The matchup between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the South Carolina Gamecocks not only shattered viewership records for women's basketball, it became the most-watched college basketball game of all time on ESPN. And all those fans, seasoned and new, are getting another dose of the excitement thanks to Peyton Manning and Jamie Horowitz's Omaha Productions' docuseries Full Court Press.

The championship wasn't the only record-breaking game of the season. Led by the standout Iowa Hawkeye, Caitlin Clark, this season of NCAA women's basketball enjoyed stellar ratings, breaking into the mainstream and turning the heads of new fans, networks, and advertisers. 

Evidence also indicates that the "Caitlin Clark Effect" extends far beyond women's college basketball and has led to a significant bump in interest in women's sports in general.

It would be unfair to the many incredibly talented players to assume that Caitlin Clark is solely carrying the popularity of women's basketball on her shoulders. Viewership of non-Iowa games during March Madness was also up 74% year over year. 

But one thing is clear: Fans can't get enough of Caitlin Clark. 

Omaha Productions is thrilled to give fans the opportunity to relive Caitlin Clark's record-breaking season in the new docuseries Full Court Press. The four-part series follows Clark, UCLA's Kiki Rice, and South Carolina's Kamilla Cardoso throughout the 2023–24 season, culminating in the historic championship game between Iowa and South Carolina.

Omaha's crew followed each player on and off the court, giving them the chance to tell their own stories while documenting their challenges at school, their personal lives, and their relationships. Viewers can expect a completely new perspective on the historic season and a never-before-seen look at the life of a college athlete at the top of her game. 

Ever since its first breakout docuseries, Quarterback, which streams on Netflix, Omaha Productions has been a leader in reshaping sports docuseries entertainment for a new generation of fans. By highlighting the athleticism and compelling stories of these three exceptional athletes, Full Court Press aims to continue the momentum of this thrilling season of collegiate women's basketball and elevate the growing enthusiasm around women's sports. 

The Caitlin Clark Effect 

The meteoric rise of Caitlin Clark in women's basketball has been astonishing to witness, and she creates an electric atmosphere wherever she plays. 

Wherever the Hawkeyes went last season, ticket prices soared into the hundreds of dollars. Many fans didn't buy tickets to see the Hawkeyes win; they went to witness Clark play in person, much like how NBA greats like Michael Jordan drew crowds in their day. Tickets to the NCAA Championship peaked at around $11,000 and were, on average, more than twice the cost of tickets to the men's final. 

This hype has been referred to as the "Caitlin Clark Effect"—a term coined to describe the surge in interest, enthusiasm, and income she has sparked for collegiate women's basketball.

"Buying season tickets to go to one game?" said King Jemison of Yahoo Sports. "That's the Caitlin Clark Effect."

This season, women's college basketball games, particularly those featuring Clark, have consistently attracted larger TV audiences than men's games. While the popularity of NCAA women's ball has been steadily climbing, this breakout season marked a seismic shift in viewer preferences and engagement. 

Recent survey data underscores the magnitude of this effect. It also reveals a significant uptick in viewership and general interest in women's sports. 

Researchers found that 11% of U.S. respondents reported being more interested in watching NCAA women's basketball when Clark was playing. Another 13% said they would watch whether or not she was playing. 

Male respondents and younger people—two key demographics—also showed stronger interest in NCAA women's basketball compared with female and elderly audiences.

Interestingly, the study also indicates that the Caitlin Clark Effect is elevating the popularity of all women's sports. As a result of Clark's performance, 12% of respondents said they plan to watch more women's sports across the board. 

This bump for women's sports is already playing out. 

"Fast-growing audiences are watching at a high clip," noted Denise Ocasio of GroupM U.S. "And subsequently, women's sports programming is in the ranks with some of the highest-rated broadcasts overall."

In a recent example, this year's WNBA draft was viewed by nearly 2.5 million people, making it the most-watched WNBA event in over two decades. Caitlin Clark was drafted by the Indiana Fever, and her rookie Jersey sold out to Fanatics within an hour of its unveiling. 

This heightened popularity and the market value of women's sports are further evidenced by the new $65 million-per-year TV rights deal with ESPN for the women's NCAA tournament. This deal, a landmark in the history of women's sports broadcasting, reflects the growing financial viability of women's sports and confirms its rising status in sports entertainment.

Omaha Productions' Highlights Caitlin Clark's Historic Journey in Full Court Press

Omaha Productions' latest docuseries, Full Court Press, will serve as a victory lap for the groundbreaking 2023–24 NCAA women's basketball season and a springboard for the future of women's sports. 

Full Court Press profiles the lives of Clark, Cardoso, and Rice. The series captures the essence of these athletes' experiences, focusing on both their athletic and personal journeys. Omaha Productions was granted extensive behind-the-scenes access, capturing the biggest games of the season and the personal and academic lives of the athletes. 

Peyton Manning, co-founder of Omaha Productions, was a close friend of the late women's basketball coaching legend Pat Summitt. While Quarterback was shooting to No. 1 on Netflix, Manning was watching Caitlin Clark dominate the 2023 NCAA tournament. 

"Watching Caitlin's electrifying performance in last year's tournament and reminiscing about my discussions with Pat about the potential of women's sports," Manning said. "Along with the rest of the world, I witnessed Caitlin Clark proving herself to be a once-in-a-generation athlete. But I also know that no great player works alone. I felt driven to spotlight these women and the incredible dedication that goes into being a collegiate athlete."

Omaha Productions has already proven that its innovative take on sports entertainment can unite viewers and ignite fan bases around great stories. For example, NFL quarterback Kirk Cousins enjoyed a sizable bump in popularity following his appearance on Omaha Productions' docuseries Quarterback. His "Midwestern dad energy" and his resilience in the face of hard hits inspired a new fandom and big internet buzz. Fans connected with Cousins as a person to the benefit of Cousins, his team, the Minnesota Vikings, and the NFL. 

The team at Omaha hopes Full Court Press will have the same positive impact on its players and viewers. It does more than just follow Clark, Cardoso, and Rice. It seeks to elevate their profiles and, by extension, the profile of women's basketball as a whole. 

Riding the momentum from the NCAA tournament, the series presents an opportunity to engage audiences and strengthen the market presence of women's sports. Just as Quarterback provided a new perspective on NFL stars, Full Court Press showcases the intensity and vibrant culture of women's college basketball.

A Bright Future for Caitlin Clark and Women's Sports 

As Caitlin Clark transitions from collegiate stardom to her promising future in the WNBA with the Indiana Fever, her impact continues to resonate across basketball courts and through the cultural landscape. In her impressive preseason debut against the Dallas Wings, Clark scored 21 points, sinking several of her signature 3-pointers for a sold-out arena. 

Selling out a preseason game is almost unheard of in the WNBA, demonstrating that Clark's influence extends far beyond the collegiate level. Fans wearing Clark's No. 22 Iowa jersey waited hours to take their seats in the packed arena, heralding what the Associated Press is calling the WNBA's "Caitlin Clark Era."

As Clark embarks on her professional journey in the WNBA, her trajectory symbolizes a broader movement within sports—a movement where women athletes are not just participants but stars who command large audiences and drive substantial economic impacts. 

This phenomenon—the ability to draw crowds and change the game forever—is exactly what Omaha Productions aims to show and amplify in its ongoing projects. Peyton Manning changed the game forever as an NFL quarterback, and now Caitlin Clark is doing the same. And at 22 years old, she's only just getting started.

With Full Court Press, Omaha has attempted to capture the essence of women's basketball through Clark and other exceptional players. By allowing the league's best athletes to tell their own stories, Omaha strives to document and promote a transformative period in women's sports. 

Full Court Press premiered on ABC on May 11 and 12. It's available for streaming on ESPN+.

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