Around the world, people from all backgrounds enjoy watching sports. Large sporting events thus have the power to bring people together.
What these large sporting events are that people love watching depends largely on the country. Many people from the U.S. prefer watching the American football Super Bowl. A person from India would enjoy the T20 cricket World Cup more.
We love sports because we can see athletes do things that seem almost impossible. But large sporting events are not there for the athletes only. These events would not exist without the viewers. For the athletes, it’s about being the best, but for the viewers, it is about relaxing and having a good time.
In recent years, global sporting events have become larger than life. It is hardly possible to imagine how many people watch these occasions. Do you know what the most-watched sporting event in the world is? Here is a list of the top sports based on the number of television viewers.
The Olympic Games have dominated the list of most-watched sporting events for decades. It is an event that speaks to our imagination. This most-watched sporting event offers a lot of entertainment and a wide range of disciplines. Another factor is that almost all countries take part. This sporting event lasts a little over two weeks.
The modern history of the Olympic Games goes back to 1896. The first Olympics were then held in Athens, Greece. The Games then made history in 1936. People in Berlin and Potsdam could then see a “live stream” in select locations.
The most-watched sporting event ever was the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Almost 4.7 billion viewers enjoyed all or part of the broadcast.
Now, that number is hard to verify, but the average number of viewers is a little easier to assess. During the Beijing Olympics, 600 million people watched on average. The peak moments were the opening and closing ceremonies with 984 and 778 million viewers, respectively.
Tour de France
Number two on the list of most-watched sporting events may be a surprising one. Cycling is not considered one of the main sports, yet the Tour de France is one of the biggest sporting events in the world. Some 3.5 billion viewers watched part of this competition.
The Tour de France takes place once a year in July. It lasts 23 days and is one of the toughest cycling races in the world. It requires extreme stamina and is not without physical danger.
Participants race in teams of eight cyclists, and as the name indicates, the race takes place in France. It shows the endurance and power of the cyclists against a backdrop of the beautiful French landscape. The competitor who takes the least time to complete all stages wins.
It is a spectacular event in a beautiful setting, which draws many viewers. It is also one of the longest events in the world of sports. That helps to push up the number of spectators.
FIFA World Cup
The next one on the list of most-watched sporting events in the world is not a real surprise. Football, or soccer, has an international appeal. It is the most popular sport in the world. The popularity of football is still increasing, and it is the number one sport in many countries.
The FIFA World Cup takes place once every four years and features national soccer teams from 32 countries. The 32 teams first play matches in a four-team “poule” system. The numbers one and two of each poule continue to the following knockout stages.
Numbers released by FIFA showed that over 3.5 billion viewers watched the last World Cup in 2018. Not all these viewers watched at the same time. It was the final match that drew the most viewers: 516.6 million people watched the FIFA World Cup final. France beat Croatia 4–2 in the final. It is interesting to note that the number of viewers is even higher than reported, as many used digital channels to watch the games.
The average number of viewers over the entire tournament was 191 million. This was four million more on average compared to the 2014 soccer World Cup in Brazil. The last five editions all drew more than three billion viewers.
More than any other sporting event, the FIFA World Cup brings people together. There is hardly any other event that arouses more passion at an international level. Football is also becoming more popular in the United States, although people there prefer to call it soccer.
Cricket World Cup
Cricket is not as popular as, let’s say, football or soccer. But it scores very high on the list of most-watched sports events.
The Cricket World Cup is a four-year event, and there are a men’s and a women’s cup. The most recent edition was in England from May to July 2019. Only ten teams competed and had to divide the total prize pool of four million US dollars.
According to numbers from the International Cricket Counsel, or the ICC, 1.6 billion people watched the 2019 Cricket World Cup. More than 4.5 billion people watched the tournament’s digital video. The 2019 World Cup, organized by England and Wales, set new viewership records. It was the most-watched cricket event ever in the world.
The Summer Games have a wintertime counterpart. The Winter Olympics feature different sports that have a link with winter, such as skiing, ice skating, and bobsledding. Winners can win a gold, silver, or bronze medal, just like in the Summer Olympics.
The Winter Games are not as popular as the Summer Games. Still, it is the fifth most-watched sporting event in the world. That means that each time, it attracts some two billion viewers.
Boxing was already a popular sport with the ancient Greeks who lived around the 7th century B.C.
Now, in the 21st century, most of us will not watch a boxing match every day. Still, the big matches attract millions of viewers around the world.
One of the big names in boxing is Muhammed Ali. He popularized the sport long before there was any such thing as . When Ali fought Leon Spinks on September 15, 1978, almost half of all Americans tuned their TV sets to that broadcast. On that day, around the world, two billion sports fans saw how Ali defeated Spinks.
Women’s World Cup
The FIFA Women’s World Cup is gaining more and more popularity. That was evident from the international interest in the event in France in 2019.
The Women’s World Cup follows the same format as the men’s. The event lasts around a month and has initial group stages followed by a knockout stage.
Considering the success of the American ladies’ team, it is no wonder that this event attracts many viewers in the U.S. But not only the Americans love the Women’s World Cup. Around the world, some 1.12 billion sports fans watched the event .
More than half of the world’s population is Asian. No wonder the Asian Games attract more than one billion viewers.
The Asian Games are rather like the Summer Olympic Games, except that only athletes from Asia compete. It features disciplines such as basketball, archery, golf, cycling, and canoeing.
The first Asian Games, or Asiad, was in 1951 in New Delhi, India. The last ones were in 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia.
UEFA Champions League
Without a doubt, soccer is the most watched sport in the world. The yearly UEFA Champions League final is somewhat comparable to the impact of the American football Super Bowl.
The Champions League is one of the most prestigious competitions in the world. In it, Europe’s best football teams compete. Viewers will be able to see the best players, such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, in action.
In 2018, the UEFA Champions League final in Kyiv attracted 380 million viewers.
The Super Bowl has been the topic of controversy in the last couple of years. Still, it is one of the most watched sporting events in the U.S. and in the world.
The Super Bowl is the culminating event of the National Football League (NFL). It has been the final game of the American football season since 1966. Some of the highlights are the excitement, the half-time show, and the famous expensive television ads. Many people even skip work the Monday after the game to get the most out of this thrilling event.
In 2012 the New York Giants faced the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. That edition drew 111.5 million viewers. That number is quite remarkable, seeing that outside the U.S. few people take an interest in this sport.
The regular National Basketball Association (NBA) season consists of 82 games for each of the teams. But it becomes very interesting once the playoffs begin. Thirty teams fight to get one of the 16 playoff spots. Of these 16 teams, only two will reach the final game.
The NBA finals are a spectacular event. It has an atmosphere of excitement, and the players’ skills are incredible. Add to that the many celebrities that attend, and you can see why many people love this event.
The NBA finals in 1998 saw the Chicago Bulls playing Utah Jazz. It featured three of the best players of all time. Michael Jordan was playing for the Bulls and the Jazz had John Stockton and Karl Malone. The sixth game of the finals series had almost 36 million viewers.
In 2022 16.9 million viewers saw how the Golden State Warriors beat the Boston Celtics.
NCAA Final Four
The NBA is the U.S.’ highest tier in basketball, and it features the best players. Before players move to the NBA, young players play for college teams.
The NCAA Final Four is the final part of the college basketball season. It has the best young talents who are getting ready to move to the NBA.
America’s biggest basketball cities host the NCAA final and semi-finals. Basketball fans go wild and will do anything to see the matches. The tickets to the events sell out weeks before the games.
In 2022 the viewers averaged 18.1 million. That year, spectators saw how Kansas defeated the University of North Carolina.
It lasts only two minutes, but the Kentucky Derby is one of the most-watched sporting events. It is “the fastest two minutes in sports” and has gained international fame. In the last couple of years before 2019, the number of viewers for the Kentucky Derby has increased steadily. In 2019 the number had risen to 16 million, a number that includes many digital viewers.
One of the most spectacular editions was in 1989. In that year, there was a thrilling rivalry between the horses Easy Goer and Sunday Silence. In the head-to-head race, Sunday Silence turned out to be the better on Churchill Downs.
It is curious to note that Sunday Silence went on to win the Preakness. Easy Goer later won Belmont Stakes, thus thwarting Sunday Silence’s claim to the Triple Crown.
Million World Series
The Million World Series is another one of the U.S.’ spectacular sporting events. It is the final of the Major League Baseball (MLB) season. In the World Series, the winner of the National League faces the winner of the American League. The winner is the one that beats the other team in a series of seven games. In 2021, the Atlanta Braves won the 117th edition.
It is true that the World Series is not as popular as it once was. But it still is one of the most-watched sporting events. The peak for the 2021 edition was 14.3 million baseball enthusiasts for the sixth game.
The teams that play in the World Series determine how many people will tune in for the games. Big-market teams attract many more viewers.
In 1978, the Los Angeles Dodgers played the New York Yankees, which resulted in a peak in numbers. The low point was in 2012 when the Detroit Tigers lost to the San Francisco Giants.
Rugby World Cup
The Rugby World Cup is a new player on the list of most-watched sporting events. The game of rugby goes back, however, to 1823. The first rugby broadcast was in 1938.
Like many other main sporting events, the Rugby World Cup is a four-year tournament. It lasts just over six weeks, and 20 of the best teams battle to win the cup.
The World Cup final is the most important rugby tournament and features teams from all over the world. There are teams from Australia, England, France, Japan, and Wales.
Rugby has the nickname “the gentlemen’s game,” which is humerous considering the physical nature of the sport. The World Cup final attracts 12.8 million rugby enthusiasts.
The Masters is the most-viewed sporting event in golf. Augusta, Georgia, U.S.A., has been the venue for the golf tournament since 1933. The rich history and the prize pool of $11.5 million make the Masters championship a special event.
One of the biggest names in golf history is Tiger Woods. His breakthrough came at the 1997 Masters. That year, the number of viewers peaked at 4.3 million. The Masters also holds the record for the most-watched golf broadcast. In 2019 10 million people watched the golf presentation.
There are four Grand Slam tennis tournaments each year. Wimbledon may be the most famous of them. It is thus not a surprise that it enjoys many millions of viewers.
Also in person, it is one of the biggest tournaments in the world. In 2022 515,164 people visited the All-England Club to see a match.
The number of viewers receives a boost from the different digital platforms that offer a broadcast of the tournament. The BBC reports 53.8 million viewers throughout the two weeks of the tournament. This is an amazing number considering the 30.5 million BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport online users in 2021.
The 2022 edition was also a record in terms of the number of hours watched. It was the highest since 2016 when Andy Murray won.
The BBC reported a peak of 7.5 million viewers for the men’s final. In addition to TV watchers, there were 2.6 million streamers on BBC iPlayer and Sport Online. The 2021 Wimbledon men’s final enjoyed 7.8 million BBC viewers. Again, the final between Novak Djokovic and Nick Kyrgios was the match with the most viewers in the tournament.
FAQs about the most watched sporting event
1. What is the most-watched sporting event of all time?
The FIFA World Cup final is the all-time most-watched sporting event. With an estimated 1.12 billion viewers worldwide, France defeated Croatia 4-2 in the 2018 World Cup final. The 2014 World Cup final between Germany and Argentina drew an estimated 1 billion viewers, continuing the tradition of the World Cup final generating significant numbers.
2. What was the most-watched sporting event in the past year?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV was the most-watched athletic event of the previous year. In just the United States, the game’s anticipated audience in February 2021 was 96.4 million people.
3. Which sport has the most-watched championship event?
Soccer (football) is the sport with the most viewed championship event, with over 1 billion people tuning in to witness the FIFA World Cup final globally. Millions of people around the world also watch the UEFA Champions League final, which is the pinnacle event for European club football.
4. How many people watched the most recent Super Bowl?
The expected US viewership for the most recent Super Bowl, Super Bowl LV, was 96.4 million. The Super Bowl the year before had an estimated 102 million viewers, therefore this was a decline.
5. What country has the most-watched national sporting event?
The Super Bowl consistently draws enormous viewers, making the United States the nation with the most-watched national athletic event. The Olympic Games, which draw millions of people from across the world, might also be viewed as a national athletic occasion for the host nation.
6. What is the most-watched Olympic event?
The most popular Olympic event changes depending on the host nation and how well-liked certain sports are. For instance, swimming or track and field are frequently the most viewed Olympic events in the United States, although gymnastics or diving can be. Additionally, the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies frequently draw sizable crowds.
7. How does the viewership of the most-watched sporting event compare to other popular events, such as the Academy Awards or the Grammys?
The most watched athletic event frequently attracts more viewers than other well-known occasions like the Grammy Awards or the Academy Awards. For instance, Super Bowl LV had an expected audience of 96.4 million people, compared to the predicted 9.8 million viewers for the 2021 Academy Awards.
8. What is the highest-rated sporting event in terms of advertising revenue?
The Super Bowl has the largest advertising revenue of any athletic event, with companies shelling out millions of dollars for a 30-second spot during the game. Over $500 million in estimated advertising revenue was generated for the Super Bowl in 2021.
9. How has the viewership of the most-watched sporting event changed over the years?
Due to reasons including the globalization of sports and advancements in broadcasting technology, the number of people watching the most-watched sporting event has generally increased throughout time. The COVID-19 pandemic has, nonetheless, had an effect on attendance in recent years, with some events witnessing a decline in audience as a result of limits on public gatherings and changes in viewing habits.
10. What impact does the most-watched sporting event have on the economy and local businesses?
The economy and small companies in the host city or nation, especially, can be significantly impacted by the most watched sporting event.
The event has the potential to promote local sectors including hospitality and transportation while also generating income from ticket sales, advertising, and tourism. The magnitude of the event, the setting, and the amount of money invested in buildings and infrastructure can all affect the impact, though.
In contrast to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed to 2021 because of the COVID-19 epidemic, the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil generated an estimated $13 billion in revenue and is anticipated to have a $2.4 billion economic impact on Japan. Even still, some nearby companies and people have complained about disruptions, increased prices, and eviction as a result of these events.
Overall, the most watched sporting event can have a complicated and multifaceted impact on the local economy and enterprises, necessitating careful preparation and management to maximize the positive effects and minimize the bad ones.
Conclusion on the Most Watched Sporting Event in the World
Whether it is an exciting football game or the biggest sporting event, they attract billions of viewers. Some of them are die-hard fans that root for their favorites, others are casual viewers.
By far, the most-watched sporting event is the Summer Olympics. The reasons are clear. It features the best athletes for all countries, and the Olympics has something for everyone.
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