The World’s Top 5 Most Watched Sporting Events

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If you’re a fan of a team like the Philadelphia Eagles, the Boston Red Sox, or the Los Angeles Lakers, you’re likely used to being surrounded by other diehard fans when you watch your team play. You and your compatriots may believe that your favorite sport is the most important sport in the whole wide world, hands down. But the world disagrees. In fact, the most passionately followed sports worldwide are hardly even popular in America, and the most popular U.S. sports are runners-up when it comes to the global television dial.

5 Monaco Grand Prix

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Held annually since 1929, the Monaco Grand Prix is considered by most auto racing enthusiasts to be the premier event of the racing season. The race garners an average viewership of around 25 million people each year, with the numbers growing as auto racing becomes ever more popular. That said, the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix actually had one of the worst turnouts as far as viewership is concerned, largely because an omnipresent chance of rain threatened to interrupt the race at any time.

4 Super Bowl XLVI

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Super Bowl XLVI, in 2012, was the most watched “big game” in the history of the NFL. The match, which pitted the NY Giants against the New England Patriots, drew around 111.5 million viewers. When you consider how (relatively) few people outside of North America care about American football, that’s a proportionally huge number of folks tuning in to watch the Pats lose.

3 ICC Cricket World Cup Championship

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In 2011, a different World Cup – the ICC Cricket World Cup championship – gave soccer a run for its money. The most watched match, interestingly enough, was not the final game, but rather the semi-final match between bitter rivals India and Pakistan played on March 30. The game might have been watched by as many as a billion people, but was surely seen by at least several hundred million simultaneous viewers.

2 The Olympics

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The Olympics may draw more overall viewers during their multi-day run than any single sporting event, but it’s not a sport itself that attracts the biggest Olympic audience. The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 is estimated to have drawn nearly 600 million pairs of eyeballs at any given moment, making it a close match for the 2010 World Cup final match.

1 FIFA World Cup

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The FIFA World Cup is the quadrennial soccer championship held every four years since 1930 (with two exceptions as a result of that whole WWII thing). The Cup’s final game is the single most viewed sporting event on earth. The 2010 match between Spain and The Netherlands was watched by an estimated 700 million people. That’s a decent chunk of the world’s entire population.

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Steven John is a published novelist and competitive pole vault champion. (The latter is not true.) His writing runs the gamut from speculative fiction to essays fueled by a mix of mirth and derision. He has never been to Lisbon but, statistically speaking, is probably taller than you.

0 thoughts on “The World’s Top 5 Most Watched Sporting Events”

  1. World Cup hands down. About time yanks got into a decent game instead of that American football nonsense

  2. Football is a gladiator sport which is far more complex than soccer in terms of strategic planning, execution, physicality and team play. Played BY MEN FOR MEN. Suck it wuss.

  3. That simply isnt true. Football (soccer) used to be a game in which the players were not particularly fit, back in the days of George Best. However for the past few decades, top flight footballers are some of the finest athletes and fitness is paramount. Physically speaking, yes American football players will of course be bulkier and stronger, but then that would be the same as comparing a rugby players physique to that of a baseball player – each sport requires a different body type. With regards to the strategic planning and execution, that is rubbish. American football is indeed a very strategic sport, but then so is football – the manager will be the overriding influence with regards to tactics (and these will be extensive), the players however will need to implement those and create chances/draw out defenders by themselves – to say otherwise just shows your ignorance.

  4. Does it make you feel like a man when you tackle other men to the ground? XD Doesnt take much strategic skill or even logic to move according to a play and catch or throw a ball.Try a few soccer skill moves and tell me its harder to catch, throw, or tackle someone. I can assure you its not. Soccer is far harder than a lot of people think. Controlling the ball with your hands is far easier than controlling it with your feet. Thats why you usually

  5. Yes perhaps American football is supposed to be more strategic but Ive seen plenty of games where players just “wing it” more than they stick to strategy. Anything can happen that you cant possibly predict in any sport which is why strategy, in the end, is left on the sidelines and the true genius of a skilled player is on the field.

  6. Well that just goes to show you how little you know about soccer. You cant just go around the field kicking the ball however you like, it takes precision dribbling, speed and skill to get passed a defender while maintaining control over the ball with your feet which is a lot harder to do than running down a field with the ball in your hand in football or dribbling down the court with your hands in basketball. I would know this because Ive played all those sports and soccer is easily the hardest sport Ive tried to master. Also I never said any sport didnt have strategy I clearly explained that strategy is something discussed on the sidelines and you cant always predict what will happen on the field thus it takes a true skilled genius to work with what they see before them b/c unlike football, soccer doesnt take breaks every 30sec after a play to come up with strategy after strategy which doesnt always work out.

  7. Soccer is a intelligent sport, where the players have to be quick with their own thinking in the game.American football quarterback needs to be reminded with their ear plug where to throw and which play to run, or they would be dumb founded.Also a soccer player would easily adjust to play american football, where the american football player would not hold even for 5 minutes in a soccer match.

  8. As I agree, with everything you are saying. However I would disagree with with a soccer player adjusting to American football. I dont care what sport you play, it is very ignorant to say an athlete for one kind of sport can not adjust EASILY to another sport.

  9. Perhaps kicking field goals. There are plenty of American football players that would, with training, become top athletes in nearly any sport involving speed, acceleration and agility.There are many players in the NFL that would make 95% of soccer players look slow. Obviously there are MANY skills that dont translate, but size, speed and agility always win. Top athletes tend to play the most popular sports in their geographic location. There is an undeniable amount of talent in the States, if soccer, rugby, cricket were the most popular sports, we would have elite teams year after year.

  10. well your speed argument between nfl players against soccer players is very wrong, you think nfl players are faster because they look fast against really slow players, well the fastest speed recorded by an Nfl player is 19.5 mph in the 40 yard, thats equal to 31.382 kmph, well here ill give you the list with some of the speeds recorded in soccer. Also these speeds some of them are set while controlling the ball which is more difficult.Arjen Robben: 37kmph, equals 22mph. just recorded 2 weeks ago Antonio Valencia:35.2 kilometres per hour which is 21.9 miles per hour.Gareth Bale: 34.7 kilometres per hour which is 21.6 miles per hour.Cristiano Ronaldo: 33.6 kilometres per hour when he shifts into top gear. That’s good for 20.9 miles per hour.Even rooney who doesnt look fast is faster with a speed of 19.9 mphTheres a huge gap as you can see

  11. Chris Johnson, Tennessee Titans, 4.24 in a 40 yard dash. = 23.7 mph. Tell me again how 19.5mph is the fastest?

  12. There is a bunch of britts on this site so even though there getting proven wrong they still remain silent. Dont worry about their soccer players they are pussies but their special forces are real men and we are glad to have them as allies.

  13. Here are NFL speeds remind you these men are much bigger as well and force= speed x mass so the soccer players would get their back broke trying to play these NFL men………………..Robert Alford, Cornerback, Atlanta Falcons: 22.60 mphJohn Brown, Receiver, Arizona Cardinals: 22.60 mphTed Ginn, Jr., Receiver, Carolina Panthers: 22.44 mphMartavis Bryant, Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers: 22.30 mphJeremy Maclin, Receiver, Kansas City Chiefs: 22.15 mphTorrey Smith, Receiver, San Francisco 49ers, 22.13 mphSammy Watkins, Receiver, Buffalo Bills: 22.13 mphAllen Robinson, Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars: 22.11 mphDavid Johnson, Running Back, Arizona Cardinals: 22.05 mphDarrius Hayward-Bey, Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers: 22.01 mph. You English punks always have some bull shit to say jealous as liars every since USA beat your ass in the revoultion war. By the way the Oylmpics are the most watched total event and USA dominates that event every time.

  14. Two different sports. Dont worry but Soccer will never replace Football in America. But to point out one thing even tho NFL has fast players, their wouldnt have the endurance like a soccer player. Even noticed after a run the RBs are on the sidelines breathing from oxygen mask?

  15. A soccer player could not adjust to american football they would look lost more important their bodies are to fragile they would leave the match hurt on a stretcher in an ambulance. The NFL player would look out of place in a soccer game but would not leave the match hurt.

  16. You have no idea what your talking about, playing quarterback is about as hard and precise a position in any sport.

  17. If it is played by men why do they have to mess with the padding and helmets and coaches, time outs, a stoppage every tackle? Rugby, harder physically, no padding except gum shield and shin pads, no time outs, 40 minutes straight play, short break then another 40. A game not a glorified beer commercial

  18. That is why you dont as hard of tackles in Rugby the pads give extra force and protection and ability to tackle harder. Rugby preserve there body while an NFL can launch themselves without fear of injury.

  19. Is it Matt? How come those MEN are buried under a stack of protection gear? Fear of scratches? You must be an ignorant for comparing these players to gladiators who fight for their life. Your GRABBALL is just like any other sport, Grab the ball and run for life ( not for real – you genius). Just because you are following, doesnt mean it is the best. A man of your Age should know better sir. I am confident that most of the MEN who follow this game has bellies that outnumbers the total number of states in USA.

  20. Lol. Yeah.. American football aka bullball, charging like bulls, ot girly-throw ball.. Throwing the ball in front like a girl, wearing protection.. Real men play rugby.. No protection.

  21. Harder tackles in NFL than rugby becuase with pads you can launch your self and use the pads as a tool.

  22. Ahhhahaa…thats ridiculous. If anything I would call a gladiator sport. It would have to be Rugby. You know…tthe American football without the Halloween costumes?? Australian Rules Football.

  23. No…that would be Rugby that is played by men for men. No pads, no helmets, each player on the team playing for the entire duration of the game and having to play both offense and defense.

  24. so by that same token then…American footballers must be pussies when compared to boxers and MMA fighters, coz nfl players wear pads and are not allowed to hit or kick each other? 🙂

  25. Im a Football fan but I do recognize that American Football is a fantastic sport, a gladiator sport, extremely strategic, very intelligent and fun to watch. The games are too long because of stops and TV commercials though.

  26. Olympics is the most viewed event as the article shows and the American Yankees have won majority of all Olympics. That places the Americans as the best athletes in the world and most watched. Also NFL Football is great and fun to watch.

  27. that is true,,,,,however them having a lot of great athletes is not really a question. The main issue is that Football and Rugby are arguably the two most popular team sports in the world. And the US isnt any good at either. They also are not that good at some sports of their own….such as baseball where they have frequently been defeated by the Cubans and Japanese at the Olympics (before it ended at the Olympics) and the baseball world cup. And American football is a sport that the whole world simply doesnt give a shit about or respect, so even trying to compare it to the worlds single most popular sport (football/Soccer) is fairly ridiculous.

  28. I love basketball. but american football>soccer . Soccer is so low scoring and most of the time there just back there in the other end of the field just kicking the ball. The games can end in ties too like have you ever heard of OT. penalty kicks are just too easy

  29. I am no hater of any sport but I do get tired of people in America hating on soccer!Do you all think this is because in the US the NBA MLB HOCKEY and NFL have the best players in the world? Each one really is like an all star league. While the MLS is still growing we only get old star players and even I will admit those games cane be boring. What if the MLS also became one of the premiere leagues in the world with players like Messi and Ronaldo?

  30. Honestly, I dont see a lot of people hating on soccer in America. Soccer as we call it here is actually picking up momentum, and it may not be mainstream but its played in nearly every school. Most of the hate I see is coming from other countries.

  31. Exactly in USA people like soccer and we qualify for word cup every time. Its the other side of the pond that is stuck up about NFL.

  32. As far as physical athleticism MMA is more athletic than American Football. The fact is Soccer or Football (as known by the rest of the world outside the states) is the most popular sport in the world and the World Cup final is the most at the top of the most watched sporting event in the world. Football doesnt have timeouts and breaks like so many other sports, players are on the field for 45+ min straight. American Football and MMA I would say are the most physically strong but Soccer in my opinion is the most Athletic

  33. There are other countries that call Soccer “Soccer” In Ireland playing with my Irish cousin I called it football and he said “Actually, we call it soccer”

  34. Well I am In Ireland, Have been here all My life, We call it Football, Just say soccer when our Cousns from the states show up 🙂

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