While there is no substitute for heading to a stadium and experiencing the atmosphere of a live sporting event, tuning into a major televised sporting event is one of the most enjoyable and often exhilarating things you can do from your own home.
Not everyone likes watching sports, but some sporting events attract a staggering number of viewers who flock to watch their heroes perform on the biggest stage.
Table of contents
Most people immediately answer with the Super Bowl when asked which sporting event they think is watched by the most. As a single game, the Super Bowl is huge, with an estimated 200 million viewers tuning in to watch the Kansas City Chiefs defeat the Philadelphia Eagles in February 2023.
Viewership of the Super Bowl is so high that the top betting sites in the world and top-tier companies paid an average of $7 million for a 3-second advertisement during the half-time break!
Having 200 million viewers is astonishing, but those are rookie numbers compared to the boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Leon Spinks. The two heavyweights fought in front of a 5,298 sellout crowd at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, on February 15, 1978, but many more watched from their homes and in pubs and clubs around the United States.
The fight was watched by two billion TV viewers Worldwide, research estimating that almost half of the televisions in the USA at the time had the fight on them!
The Cricket World Cup
Cricket is not a sport that many Canadians play or watch, but it is massively popular around the world, especially in India and Pakistan, where cricket is the national sport.
The 2021 T20 World Cup took place in the United Arab Emirates between October 17 and November 14 and saw an almost unbelievable 6.65 billion viewers over the course of the month long competition.
India and bitter rivals Pakistan faced each other in the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup in a game that attracted 495 million viewers, making it the second-most watched cricket game in history.
The most-watched? India versus Sri Lanka in the 2011 World Cup Final, which saw 558 million television viewers!
The FIFA World Cup
Soccer is a global game and the most popular sport on the planet in terms of the number of television viewers, fans inside stadiums, and people playing the game.
The FIFA World Cup, which pits the best international teams against one another every four years, is seen as the pinnacle of the game.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup saw more than five billion people watch from afar, with the thrilling final between Argentina and France enjoying an estimated 1.5 billion views globally, making it one of the most watched sporting events in television history.
The Summer Olympic Games
Like the FIFA World Cup, the Summer Olympic Games only run every four years, and athletics fans flock to their television screens in droves when the Olympics occur.
According to the International Olympic Committee, some 3.05 billion unique viewers tuned into the coverage of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The Winter Olympic Games
It is not only the Summer Olympic Games that are hugely popular with sports fans because the Winter Olympic Games regularly attract more than 2 billion viewers.
Indeed, the 2022 games in Beijing were seen by an audience of 2.01 billion unique viewers!
The same independent research that came up with the 2.01 billion figure also showed that 40% of viewers prefer figure skating events, making it the most-watched event at the Winter Olympics.