We know that the sports world holds a great deal of interest for many people around the world, which is why a lot of us tend to go to arenas and stadiums where our favorites are taking place. Yet, are we ever really sure of the absolute figures of people watching sporting events?
You see, the vast majority of them are also aired on television for people to watch who cannot attend the actual events. So, it was with this in mind that we thought we would take a look at the most watched sporting events of all time and find out the exact number of people who showed a vested interest in them.
So, join us to find out more about these sporting events and their history-making viewing figures.
The 2012 Olympics that took place in London, England were lauded as a monumental success from the opening ceremony right the way through to the closing ceremony. Several reasons were attributed to the success of this, starting with the fact that it featured stunning organization and coordination by the volunteers, the public and the British military, ensuring that everything went off without a hitch.
Not only that, but the fact that Danny Boyle stepped forward as the director of the opening ceremony saw it kick off with an explosive start. Furthermore, women’s boxing was introduced as an Olympic sport in London too, with every country that was eligible for the sport sending at least one competitor to partake in it.
The 2012 Olympics would manage to garner the interest of around 3.6 billion people globally.
Before the London Olympics, there was the Chinese effort towards providing a thrilling event. The Beijing 2008 Olympics went down in history as being very successful in its own right, with three things standing out as being the main contributors to this.
First of all, the air quality in Beijing was actually a lot better than expected. The large cities of China are known for being fairly polluted, although during the 2008 Olympics, this seemed to dissipate. Additionally, while terrorist threats had been sent prior to the games starting, these never materialized, thanks to the government beefing up security checks and protocols. Finally, the fact that there wasn’t a single athlete who made a complaint while on stage, helped China to secure the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will also be held in Beijing.
In 2010, the FIFA World Cup tournament was held in an African country for the very first time since its inception. This already made the event special to many people, and in turn, it meant that multiple media houses took the opportunity to stake their places as being a broadcaster of it.
As it stands, this deal for the media was made even better, when experts brought forth the prediction that the World Cup in 2010 would have the highest global audience amongst all television events. The predictions were correct, and a huge audience of 3.2 billion tuned in to watch teams from all over the world compete, with the eventual winner being Spain.
While the Brazilian World Cup efforts didn’t manage to outdo the South African audience share, it wasn’t far off with a global audience reach of just under 3.2 billion itself. In actual fact, the average World Cup audience tends to hover around the 3 billion mark, so Brazil certainly outdid many previous tournaments.
With Brazil having produced many football legends itself, such as Pele who went on to win three World Cups during his time, expectations for the host country in 2014 were quite high. It didn’t disappoint, ensuring that all measures were covered to produce an exciting and enthralling set of games.
Brazil made its mark again in 2016 with its hosting of the Olympics, which drew in around 3.2 billion people itself. When you consider that the average figure for the Olympics stands at about 2 billion, the three Olympic games on this list really managed to push the boat out and grasp the attention of many more viewers.
You could say that Beijing, London and then Rio set the precedent for high viewing figures, which Tokyo, Japan will no doubt be looking to emulate in 2020 for their offering of the Summer Olympics.
Cricket may not be the world’s most-known sport, but in the countries where it is played, it stands out as being exceptionally popular. India and Pakistan have quite an interest in the game, as do the United Kingdom and Australia. It might just as well be a secondary religion in some countries.
That’s why when India took on Pakistan in the finals of the World Cup in 2015, it was little surprise that just over 1 billion people tuned in to watch the outcome. The finish of the game saw India outdo their neighboring country by 76 runs. A great victory for the Indian nation, for sure. However, probably the biggest triumph was the fact that cricket managed to draw in such huge viewing figures from around the world.
While the overall tournament may not have had as many viewers as in previous or proceeding years, the final of the 2006 FIFA World Cup saw Italy and France face off and it drew in about 715,000,000 viewers at the same time. Yet, why has this match gone down in history on such a huge level?
Well, first of all, spectators got to see one of the world’s best players in Zinedine Zidane get sent off for a violent headbutt on opposition player Materazzi, during extra time. Not only that, but it was just the second World Cup Final that was decided by penalty shootouts. The game seemed to build and build to a dramatic closing moment as Italy managed to secure the victory with a 5-3 score.
The question is, would France have come out on top if Zidane hadn’t taken it upon himself to rough up one of the opposition?
One final sporting event to take note of is the 2013 UEFA Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. The UEFA is, of course, the premier club competition in Europe, which is why this all-German affair in the 2013 final brought in such high viewing figures.
The final was aired in over 200 countries around the world and reached an estimated 360,000,000 people. The first half of the game didn’t see either team score. However, during the second half, Bayern Munich managed to overcome Borussia Dortmund with a 2-1 victory to secure their position as tournament winners.
It’s quite impressive to see the reach of various sporting events, although of course, the Olympics features athletes from all over the world, which is potentially why it is consistently one of the most-watched events on television, sporting or not.
With soccer and cricket eking their way into the rankings as well, it really puts into perspective what the world’s most popular sports actually are.