5 most watched sporting events in the world

With the Champions League final coming up this weekend, we look at the most watched sports on TV. 

Meryl D'Souza May 26, 2016

This weekend, Real Madrid take on Atlético Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final.

Irrespective of where your loyalties lie and even if you’re on the fence, you will be watching the fixture. It’s simply too engrossing. 

The storylines, the star names and the tension are all set up much like a WWE pay-per-view. To take it to the next level, this year will also introduce an unprecedented opening ceremony with a performance by Alicia Keys.

That may not seem important to die-hard fans of the sport, but it makes a difference to casual viewers. In this day an age, marketing teams behind sports need to turn it into a spectacle to make it appealing. It’s a trend that took America by storm (NBA), skipped Europe and went to India (Indian Premier League) and is finally taking over Europe.

That’s not to say that advertising is king. You need to have some substance to your sport for it to make a mark on a world audience. Just look at the Super Bowl. Here’s exactly why it’s such a big deal in America and not cared about in the rest of the world.

It’s this form of packaged advertising that makes these sports so phenomenal to watch. These sports are made for television. It’s one of the many reasons why the Champions League is the third most-watched sporting event of all-time.  Here are the most watched sports in the world.

FIFA World Cup

Since 2004-2014 alone, football’s biggest tournament has dominated TV eyeballs with over 200 million viewers. On average, the football carnival brings in about 3.5 billion viewers every four years. Here’s the clincher though: it’s showing no signs of slowing down. The Germany vs. Argentina final in 2014 drew in about a billion viewers.


Summer Olympics

According to Wikipedia, about 70 per cent of the world’s total population  (between four to five billion viewers) watched some part of the 2008 Summer Olympics. It’s hard to see why they wouldn’t tune in. The Olympics feature the best athletes from around the world competing for the title of undisputed best in the world.


UEFA Champions League

Unlike the two above, this one is a tournament of only European clubs duking it out for the title of the best football club in Europe. It may not sound all that interesting, but when you throw in the likes of Ronaldo vs. Messi, your average annual viewership is bound to hit at least 1.7 billion.


Tour de France

Surprised? So were we. But turns out being the best-attended annual sporting event on the planet doesn’t diminish your TV ratings which stands at an average of 1.5 billion viewers.


Cricket World Cup

It’s taken the sport a while but cricket is climbing up the viewership ladder. Again, this has more to do with the packaging than anything else. That’s not to take away anything from the sport itself. When over a billion people tune in to watch an India vs. Pakistan match (from the 2015 World Cup), you know you’re doing something right.