Top 10 Most Watched Sports In The World

What is the world’s most popular sports? This question is  most often asked and has most often never been definitively answered. A quick search and a bit of research found many references to the top sports of the world. The problem with listing the top sports is coming up with a clear defining variable for the list. When we mention popular, do we mean most watched, the most played or just the most talked about! Other factor which could help determine the lists of popular sports include the number of fans, the number of registered players and the number of people that play the game. Many of these things were  factored in a list of  top 10 most watched  sports. For the list of Top 10 most popular sports websites click here.

1. Football

With over 3.5 billion fans, football (or soccer) is undeniably the most watched sport in the world.  Football has the maximum stadiums, greatest numbers of people buying football merchandise, number of competitions and events held – such as the world cup, UEFA League, American Cup, etc. Also there are the maximum number of teams, leagues and clubs for football all over the world.  The current football world cup 2010 has about 715.1 million people who watched the final. It is the world’s most widely viewed sports event today.

2. Cricket

Immensely popular from the beginning, since its inception in England in the 16th century.  Cricket is more popular in Test playing countries, and is the second most watched sport after football. The Cricket world cup in 2007, had 672,000 spectators in the stadiums alone and about 2.2 billion TV viewers, with the matches being telecast in 200 countries. The 2011 Cricket world cup will be broadcasted in 220 countries.

3. Basketball

Basketball has about 2 billion spectators worldwide, though most are in USA and Europe. The NBA is the most popular league with all its matches being closely watched.  The NBA has a viewership of 1.5  – 2 million per match, and a total viewership of 15 million per season. The NCCA drew a viewership of 12 million viewers.

4. Tennis

Wimbledon matches had about 2.2 million viewers per match, whereas  the US Open had a viewership of 63.5 in all, with each match having 10 million viewers. The game of tennis originated in the United kingdom and spread among the English speaking population in the world and now is an Olympic sport. Tennis has some major tournaments, Grand Slam Tournaments, Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open which are widely watched.

5. Motor Racing

Auto racing, also called car racing or motor racing, is one of the most televised sports. Formula One is the most popular kind of single-seat car racing tournament and is a World Championship. Single seat racing is not only about teams, there are also car racing clubs like Monoposto Racing Club. The other kind of single seat racing is Kart Racing which is on smaller machines on low cost tracks.  The Grand Prix began in France in 1894, and was an endurance test for the car and driver. Grand prix evolved into formula racing and later Formula 1. Formula one championships are called Grand prix.

6. Horse Racing

Horse racing is an equestrian sport, that has evolved from the ancient chariot races. Horse racing is associated with gambling and generated $ 115 billion during the last season. Horse racing can be broadly categorised into thoroughbred horses racing, endurance racing or quarter horse racing. An important race is the Kentucky Derby race. Along with others it is held in June each year. This is a sport usually associated with the elite, models and celebrities are the usual faces seen on the race-course.

7. Baseball

The 2009 World Series, the most prestigious tournament of Baseball in the United States and Canada, had a viewership of 19.1 million viewers. Baseball was initially played in England in the mid-nineteenth century. In North America, various versions of the game developed. It is the national sport of the United States. Baseball on the professional, amateur, and youth levels is popular in North America, parts of Central and South America and the Caribbean, and parts of East Asia. Besides being played with enthusiasm, it is also highly watched.

8. Athletics

Athletics is a collection of running, jumping, walking and throwing games. It is inexpensive and one of the most popular sports in the world. Starting back to the 776 BC, Olympics, athletics is now an integral part of the Summer Olympics. It is at the Olympics that Athletics is watched with interest and passion. The World Athletic Meet had a viewership of 8-9 million in the Men’s 100 metre and the Women’s High Jump.

9. Golf

Golf is a precision Club-and–Ball sport, using various types of clubs to hit balls in the holes. The golf course consists of either 9 or 18 holes. Finding its origin in Rome, China and Scotland, Golf has evolved to a spectator sport over the years. Tiger Woods was the face of Golf for a long time until his personal life dragged his career to a standstill.

10. Boxing

Boxing is a combat sport.  During the game, two people fight using their fists. Originating in 2nd and 3rd millennium BC,  it was popular in Roman and Greek cultures, where the only entertainment for masses was to watch humans and animals combat. Muhammed Ali was the face of boxing. Today boxing has a viewership of over 2 million fanatics.

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32 Responses

  1. Jen

    Baseball isn’t the national sport of the United States. It is the national passtime. A slight difference, but a difference.

  2. Ben

    How do you know the cricket was broadcaste in 200 countries? and 220 in the next year? don’t you mean territories? I don’t think there is 220 nations out there and because there might be a single unknown TV station is playing in a certain country it doesn’t mean that the cricket is popular in the nation. In US who cares about Cricket?, China? Venezuela?

    I think this is totally overated list….

  3. JDOG

    Umm where is Rugby Union, which should definitely be #6, it is a major sport in Australia and is the biggest in the pacific as well as NZ, Sth Africa and the second biggest in western europe (UK, france and Italy) as well as the second biggest in Argentina and Uruguay and is also big in Japan.

  4. mehmet

    no way cricket is the 2 most popular sport in the world. Just because its popular in 3 or 4 countries doenst mean that it should be 2nd in that list. Who the f*** cares about cricket?

  5. Brooke M

    Of course cricket is the number 2 sport, Its the national sport of India, and with 1 billion people there, there’s a fairly hugh contibution from just one country. It is also the #1 sport in bangaldesh, Sri lanka, The West Indies (Caribbean) and Pakistan. And is one of the top sports in Australia. New Zealand, England, South Africa, England, Kenya, Zimbabwe. It is also popular in Ireland, Scotland, Holland, afghanistan, Canada, plus many more. Just because America doesn’t play it much, doesn’t mean its not popular throughout the rest of the world.

    Expected Rugby to be on there though. There are 195 countries (give or take, depending on the classification of country) so the 220 thing doesn’t seem right.

  6. RoN

    One correction-all the rules and terminologies in baseball are stolen from cricket.

  7. jc

    The 220 thing might be right, there were, after all, 204 countries who entered the last world cup, so why can’t there be 220 countries (or nations) in the world. Not saying it is correct, but it’s not unthinkable.

    PS. As stated before, just ‘cos the US doesn’t play cricket suddenly doesn’t make it an ‘unpopular’ sport. I’m sure India cares just as little about american football as you do about cricket – and there’s a lot more of them than you.

    For the record – I hate cricket, but accept it’s number 2 in the world spot.

  8. Clive

    Where is Rugby??? Hahaha, this must have come from an american. Suprised NFL didnt top the list NOT!!!

  9. J. H Crook

    Ofcourse Cricket is the second on list





  10. s. kamal

    Cricket is most attractive and more stun-shine game!

    so icc must attract world’s country to play cricket

    south asian county’s people are crazy with cricket

  11. Rahul

    Cricket matches played between India and Pakistan ALONE cross half a billion mark every time they play…. EVERY SINGLE TIME. Period. No If’s, And’s, or But’s about it… This one particular match-up is watched by anyone with a faint pulse and inclination to watching Cricket and not just the India and Pakistan population. This matchup is so massive in popularity that you can LITERALLY play ads for people to watch SuperBowl and/or Champions League final. I am a big EPL and La Liga fan but no amount of hype when ManU plays Arsenal or ManU plays Chelsea or when Barca plays Real, etc will generate a massive viewing as Ind/Pak game… The only game that handedly beats this particular match up is a FIFA final. Sorry guys – truth hurts… My Top 3 Sports has pretty much not changed ever – Soccer, Cricket and Football (yes, the AMERICAN one – get over it!).

  12. Rahul

    oh yea – BTW – Cricket in South Asia is as big as Soccer is in South America… so – before you diss of Cricket, pause and think how crazy Soccer fans are in South America… ok – how about this -think “Texas High School Football” times 100… there – you just entered the Cricketing Universe of South Asia… LOL…

  13. Dil

    Cricket is the most famous game in India,SriLanka.Pak,Bal,AUS,NZ ect…..who cares about the way that Americans think…….

  14. JO

    Foot ball and cricket are the two world greatest games. I’ve surprised that hockey and rugby are not in the list. Foot ball is greatful game always. Cricket is also an excellent game which helped to make peace between India and pakistan during semifinal in cricket world cup 2011.

  15. Ajay

    Cricket is passion in India, Pak, Bangladesh, SL (More than 2 billion people).
    NZ, Aus, Eng, Ire, Holland, WI, Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Scotland, Canada are other international Division 1 teams…
    Other countries playing cricket trying to get into top tier – Nepal, Qatar, America (Google it), Afghanistan, China (Yes China), Singapore, Malaysia etc –> Total 36 members. I agree that America, China playing cricket doesn’t mean that people in those countries would watch Cricket but still the would be small number of people adding up to the number.
    Don’t forget, there is no country in the world where Indian are not there… 🙂

  16. kapil

    i m living in dubai and i request all you americans to come here and watch passion for cricket.we eat,drink and live cricket.we can die for father is a businessman in south asia,he told me that there people can live without water but not without cricket.nearly half of worlds population lived in these countries and sports like football, basketball and baseball did;nt even exist rocks and american sports are watched by those who are born when their mothers are fucked at road by dog .cricket rocks and rules and american sports sucks

  17. Miranda Brooke

    Snooker should place high on this list, with over 100 million viewers across Europe and about 30 million in China. This isn’t well researched at all.

  18. Keon

    Im American boen but BOTH of my parents were born in Guyana(formerly known as British Guiana, part of the British West Indies)where cricket is HUGE, even in this country my father joins up with a few Indians and they play on the weekends. I dont enjoy it one bit BUT i atleast respect it.

    And NO Rugby does not belong on the list, this is about the top SPECTATOR sports, not top sports by amount of people that play it. Besides, mose of the countries where Rugby is great(i.e South Af., NZ, England, Aus, etc) have smaller populations than say the US or India so their viewership will be lower.

    I’m glad to see an American sport(my second favorite after American Football) in the top 3 though. Warms my belly

  19. Jockys

    how did baseball make this list? one persons idea of what they think is most watched. Better get out and travel the world, get a real opinion of whats more popular,Rugby should be on the list

  20. The lasting lesson of 1962 - Page 17

    […] a Chinese film ever. Talking about cricket All South Asia + Many others play the sport. More info: 10 Most Watched Sports In The World Didn't your friends SL, PAK never told you about it? real shame. btw there's a separate section for […]

  21. james

    Where is Rugby, Rugby is one of the MOST popular sports – this is a BAD list of research.

  22. meniv

    cricket at no.2 is a r.ight thing but what about rugby? rugby must be at 3. i think cricket wc 2011 attracts less crowd than rugby wc 2011.sorry if i am wrong bbecuse i see few rugby wc matches. the problem of cricket wc is the long format of 7 hours. take a holiday on working day and pay a ticket price equals to one day salari of middle class family. plus half of that on food. its really diff.

  23. virat

    ofcoz soccer is at numbr1! then is cricket. ..,and baseball is Jus played in usa..Haha…go to europe, ,asia,,africa…no1 cares about baseball!
    baseball and basket ball both are famous in america only…
    cricket is wayy more bigger when it comes to viewership,,across south asia,uk,australia,south africa,newzlnd,,,,west indies etc… plz dont compare cricket with baseball and basketball! ….rugby ought to be at number 3!

  24. Js

    Baseball is not only popular in the USA. It is the most popular sport in Japan, Cuba, Venezuela, Panama, Taiwan, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Netherlands Antillies. It’s also very popular in Mexico, Canada, Nicaragua, South Korea and several other countries. Basketball is also very popular in Asia and Europe. It’s the most popular sport in Lithuania and the Philippines, and its arguably the most popular sport in China.

  25. Mike

    Under horse racing, the Kentucky Derby is held EVERY year on the first Saturday in May (not June). It is the longest continuously running sporting event in the United States.

  26. G.S

    Of course cricket is the number 2 sport, Its the national sport of India, and with 1 billion people there, there’s a fairly hugh contibution from just one country. It is also the #1 sport in bangaldesh, Sri lanka, The West Indies (Caribbean) and Pakistan. And is one of the top sports in Australia. New Zealand, England, South Africa, England, Kenya, Zimbabwe. It is also popular in Ireland, Scotland, Holland, afghanistan, Canada, plus many more. Just because America doesn’t play it much, doesn’t mean its not popular throughout the rest of the world.

    Expected Rugby to be on there though. There are 195 countries (give or take, depending on the classification of country) so the 220 thing doesn’t seem right.


    NOBODY plays Cricket here, nobody watches it, I don’t think it’s even on TV here. If you have to name the big sports here it’s probably

    1. Soccer (by far)
    2. Field Hockey
    3. Speed Skating

    The other sports are a lot smaller here

  27. Waleed_Kallis

    You Guys this thing doesnt make any sense. OK first of all as a Pakistani and Canadian, I’m a cricket and Hockey Fanatic, so obviously i feel that cricket should be at number 2 because its on every website i researched on. And again all the people who are fully canadian or American or what ever, they don’t relise dat cricket isn’t JUST and Indian Subcontinental sport, no, infact cricket was invented by England and i think you’ll find dat cricket came before Baseball by about 4 hundred year so don’t even think about saying dat cricket copied baseball, and Cricket is played in India,Pakistan,Bangladesh,Sri Lanka,Afghanistan, so dats 2 Billion people rite there, and its also the national sport of Australia, and England so take another 200 mill, and its the most popular sport in New Zealand, South Africa,Kenya,and Zimbabwe, and no Soccer isnt nearly as popular as cricket in south africa, its played in The Caribbean too, and UAE,China,Argentina,ad Singapore have cricket team that are rising in skill and popularity, and oh, did u guys see Canada’s performence, in the 2011 world cup, and tyson gordon’s century against Kenya? and to top it all of cricket is also played in Ireland,Scotland,Whales,and the Netherlands, so next time u call Cricket an indian sport please dont be lazy retards and actually research, oh and y is base ball there, its only played in USA? and its only played in Toronto in Canada
    and where’s hockey its too played in Canada,USA,Norway,Denmark, and Russia!

  28. Keshon

    Horse Racing is fucking borning only god damn mutherfuckers look at that damn shit

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