What is the Most Watched Sporting Event in the World?

Sport is a tradition that has been passed down for ages. Right from when sports were first instituted in 776 BCE up until today, it has attracted massive crowds. Today, billions of people around the world watch sports regularly as a means of recreation. In fact, sporting events are regarded as one of the most popular and highly-watched TV broadcasts. Wondering about the most watched sports? You’ve come to the right place. This article highlights some of the most watched sporting events in the world and how many viewers each of the events attract.

Top 16 Most Watched Sporting Events

Here is a broad list of the top 16 most-watched sporting events across the world:

1. Tour de France – 3.5 Billion Viewers

Tour de France, a prominent event in cycling, occurs every summer in France. It is regarded as the most-watched sporting event and one of the most esteemed competitions in cycling. Also, it is one of the hardest sports with a path that threads through the country’s picturesque mountain roads. The Tour de France race comprises 21 stages summing up to about 2,200 miles, raced for more than 23 days. Usually, competitors of this sport race as part of a team made up of 8-persons. Contestants in each team work together to accomplish the fastest cumulative duration.

Tour de France dates as far back as 1903, and over the years, it has evolved to be one of the greatest events in the world of sports.

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2. World Cup of Soccer (FIFA World Cup)– 3.3 Billion Viewers

The World Cup Soccer or FIFA World Cup attracts about 3.262 billion viewers worldwide whenever it is held. This tournament features national football teams coming together from around the globe to compete until eventually one team is crowned as the champion. This event is held every four years and is regarded as a pinnacle occurrence in the world of sports.

The 1950 FIFA World Cup events hold the record for most attendance at a sporting game in an enclosed stadium with a breathtaking number of 199,854 spectators. In 2018, the World Cup attracted 3.262 billion from around the world.

3. Cricket World Cup – 2.6 Billion Viewers

The Cricket World Cup is the global championship for well-known One Day International cricket. This competition features just ten teams with a duration of just over six weeks. Just like the FIFA World Cup, the contest is held every four years. The next Cricket World Cup is scheduled for 2023 in India.

The 2019 Cricket World Cup, which was hosted by England and Wales, established a new record for total viewership. A whopping 2.6 billion people around the world tuned in for the match. This makes it the most-watched cricket game of all time.

4. Summer Games – 2 Billion Viewers

The Summer Games are undoubtedly one of the most anticipated sporting events today. The Games offers you a variety of diverse sports to watch and feature underdog stories, tremendous personal victories, record-breaking accomplishments involving strength and endurance, as well as the chance to display national pride. When it comes to the Olympics Summer Games, people all over the world are always eager to cheer on constants from their home country. This is one reason why billions of people like to spectate.

The Summer Games are hosted every four years in a chosen prominent and attractive destination. This also contributes to the sport being one of the most attended sporting events. With an international average reach of about 2 billion viewers, it’s regarded as one of the most watched sports on TV.

5. Winter Games – 2 Billion Viewers

Though the Winter Games doesn’t attract the same attention as the Olympics Summer Games, it is still a very popular sporting event that attracts interest from different nations around the globe. Hence, it is considered one of the most watched sporting events. This sporting event is held over a 17-day span every four years.

With popular sports games like figure skating, ice hockey, alpine skiing, as well as snowboarding, the Winter Games has definitely reached a broad audience.

In 2018, about 1.92 billion people (a quarter of the world’s population) tuned in to watch this game. Their audience slightly declined from the total number of audience in the previous event held in 2014. The 2014 games attracted about 2.06 billion viewers from around the world.

6. Women’s World Cup – 1.12 Billion Viewers

Women’s soccer is fast becoming increasingly popular and as a result, it deserves to be on the list of the most-watched sporting events. In 2019, the Women’s World Cup held in France drew a lot of interest. In this tournament, different national teams will be made to compete in a month-long match that starts with group-stage rounds and comes to an end with a knockout stage (the playoff rounds).

The 2019 Women’s World Cup tournament broke its earlier viewing records, with an extraordinary 1.12 billion viewers watching worldwide. We anticipate a bigger number in the next tournament in 2023.

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7. Boxing – 1 Billion Viewers

Boxing is a very fascinating sport. Although casual matches don’t gather massive audiences, major matches always make huge waves. Once any major boxing match is announced, it attracts a huge number of viewers who tune in to watch from around the globe.

Viewership is usually estimated based on pay-per-view purchases and these big-name boxing contests put up massive numbers. Muhammad Ali, popularly known as “The Greatest”, was regarded as one of the most popular fighters ever to exist in the world of boxing. He was also named “Sportsman of the Century.” Ali’s brawls received massive attention and are considered one of the most-watched sporting events. With numbers of viewership as high as one billion, Boxing is definitely worth being on this list.

8. UEFA Champions League – 380 Million Viewers

Soccer is arguably the most popular sport that is loved by many people across the globe. Besides hosting the FIFA World Cup, Soccer also hosts the UEFA Champions League Final, which is one of its major events. In the UEFA Champions League, top teams in Europe will have to battle throughout the season to see which team wins the prestigious championship match.

For years, the UEFA Champions League Final has been consistently one of the most watched sporting events. In 2018, the Champions League Final hosted in Kyiv attracted a whopping 380 million viewers who tuned in to watch it from around the globe. The 2021 edition was also the most-watched Champions League Final game in six years.

9. Super Bowl – 112.3 Million Viewers

The Super Bowl attracts a whopping 102 million viewers every year. It is one sport that every American football fan looks forward to every year. The National Football League’s championship match is one that always tops the US sporting list.

While millions of people from around the world tune in to watch the game itself, just the A-list halftime show and the commercials shown attracts millions of viewers as well.

10. World Series – 14.3 Million Viewers

This special event is another favorite of most Americans. Each season of Major League Baseball (MLB) in October culminates with the World Series. The winner of the American League will have to face the winner from the National League. This contest will be a best-of-seven series and the winner becomes the World Series champion. In 2021, the 117th edition of the World Series was hosted and the event was won by the well-known Atlanta Braves.

Although this sport doesn’t attract the crowd it attracted before, it is still regarded as one of the most watched sporting events. The 2021 World Series game had a total of 14.3 million TV viewers.

11. NCAA Final Four – 18.1 Million Viewers

Before basketball superstars show their dexterity in the NBA, they have to hone their playing skills in college. The NCAA Final Four is a match that showcases the completion of their basketball season. Every year, the NCAA semi-final and the final games are hosted in specific locations in America and the excitement is usually big.

The 2022 NCAA championship game had a TV viewing audience of about 18.1 million. The audience watched as Kansas outdid UNC.

12. NBA Finals – 16.9 Million Viewers

Basketball fans are one of the most loyal. They follow their team all through the 82 games of the normal season up until the playoffs start. With a total of 30 teams combatting for the 16 playoff spots, just two of these teams will make it to the NBA Finals. So watching these teams fight for the championship position is certainly a big deal.  The NBA Finals usually feature remarkable basketball, a unique celebrity presence, as well as a fun and exciting atmosphere. This is one reason why millions of people want to tune in and watch the game.

The 2022 NBA Finals featured the Golden State Warriors taking on the Boston Celtics. TV viewership peaked at 16.9 million people in game six, to witness the Warriors claim the championship.

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13. The Masters – 13.16 Million Viewers

The Masters is another prestigious event that attracts about 18.3 million TV viewers. It is held every spring in Augusta, Georgia. This game attracts the best golfers from all nations and boasts of drawing big names and a massive crowd.  Playing just four rounds over a period of four days, the two top winners from the game eventually battle to become the Masters Champion. In 2022, the Masters TV viewership numbers skyrocketed, peaking at about 13.16 million.

14. Kentucky Derby – 19 Million Viewers

Kentucky Derby, also named “the fastest two minutes in sports” is arguably the most prestigious horse racing event you can find in the world. While the Derby weekend is crammed with a variety of horse races, the highlight of the whole event is the grand finale. Here, three-year-old thoroughbreds have to race one and just one-quarter miles fast around the historic and well-known Churchill Downs track.

Kentucky Derby viewership rapidly grew after the pandemic. The 2022 Kentucky Derby pulled in about 19 million viewers from around the world.  to watch on TV.

15. World Cup of Rugby- 12.8 Million Viewers

The World Cup of Rugby is the most prestigious event in the world of Rugby. Like many other big sporting events, the World Cup of Rugby is hosted every four years. In this event, twenty of the finest international teams have contested in a six-week match.

In 2019, millions of people tuned in to watch the World Cup of Rugby, which was hosted in Japan. When it comes to the number of viewers, Rugby is slowly climbing to the top.

16. Wimbledon – 7.5 Million Viewers

Wimbledon boasts a whopping 7.5 million viewers on average! It is undoubtedly the most well-known tennis tournament in the world, hence, it is unsurprising that it is on this list of the most-watched sporting event. So it is no surprise that it’s one of the most watched sporting events, and also one of the most attended.

Closing Thoughts

Although a lot of sports attract millions of viewers, no sport comes close to Tour de France in terms of viewership. This prestigious cycling event is watched by about 3.5 Billion viewers worldwide. We can attribute the massive viewership of this event to the fact that it offers viewers a variety of different contests. Tour de France is more than just a regular cycling race, it’s a full travel show with a tiny bit of regular sport thrown in.

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