• Marc Luther Thomas

The World's Five Most Watched Sports

In the latest Nifty blog, our Creative Exec, Beth Derbidge, shares her take on the world's most-watched sports...


Who doesn't love sports? It's one of the best forms of entertainment. Before televised sports, if you wanted to watch a game, you had to go in person. Now, many fans choose to stay home to watch the top teams from around the world. 

Before I get into the top five, I'm going to give some insight into the technology that has improved both sports itself and how we watch the games from home. 


One of the evolutionary moments is the instant replay, which was introduced in 1963 and had an immediate impact and is still so important in the world of sports today. Instant replay is most used for officiating in rugby, where a TV ref helps the on-field ref make decisions. It’s a great way of adding suspense to the game. It’s also used in football - remember the red card given to Zinedine Zidane for head-butting an opponent in the chest during the 2006 World Cup? The ref missed it entirely - until he saw it replayed on the big screen. Long before the days of VAR!


There’s a bit of trivia for you, but now for the top five most-watched sports:


At number five is volleyball.


With a fanbase of 900million, it's widely watched all around the world, especially Brazil. Volleyball has been on the rise in Brazil since the 1980s and continues to grow. Other countries which love to engage are Russia, the US, Japan, China and Italy.


The fourth most-watched sport is Tennis.


Tennis is dominant in North America and Europe which a fan base of more than one billion. The highest viewed events are the US Open, Wimbledon, the French Open, and Indian Wells Tennis. Not only is it the 4th most viewed but it's also one of the wealthiest sports.


Field hockey sits in third place.


Now it starts to get interesting.


With more than two billion fans worldwide, field hockey is the third most-watched sport. It's the national sport of India and people of Australia, Japan and Western Europe love it too.


Cricket is in at number two.


The sport in second place, with a viewership of more than 2.5 billion mainly spreading across 12 countries, is Cricket. The viewership comes mainly from Asia, Australia and Europe. The most-anticipated events include the ICC Champions Trophy, T20i World Cup and not to forget The Cricket World Cup with an audience reach of more than 400-million.


Can you guess the most viewed sport?


Are you ready for number one? You are probably already thinking, what about rugby, baseball, basketball or golf. Sadly, it's not them. 


Yep, you guessed it. It's football, or ‘soccer’, which boasts a massive fan base of more than four billion. 


From China and India to Brazil and Argentina, Portugal and Germany to England and Italy, football is loved all over the world. You can probably name a great player from every country. The FIFA World Cup is the most popular sporting event in the world and pulls in more than 3.5 billion views.

UEFA Champions League and FIFA Confederations Cup are also amongst the most-viewed events, with 1.7 billion and one-billion viewers.


I was surprised by the results (despite the predictable ranking of football) - I honestly thought Rugby or American football would have been in the top five, but the world is full of surprises!

nifty communications is a pr & marketing agency with a difference. everything we do is fuelled by the latest Google data, so we position our clients in the centre of topical discussion through an integrated marketing environment called the niftyverse.

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