The sports industry is one of the sectors that has witnessed a tremendous amount of growth in recent time. The viewership of sports like cricket, volleyball and table tennis have raised in the past few years. However, there are still many sports like athletics, badminton, boxing etc. that are still struggling to garner good footfall for live events. Here are the ten most popular sports in the world.
Multiple criteria are required to define ‘Popularity’. This includes the presence of the audience in courts and stadiums, viewership of sports on television and the internet, social media following etc. Also, the popularity of sports is directly proportional to the number of funds and the number of sponsorships available. Here are the top ten most popular sports in the world:
Golf | 450 Million
The 10th most popular sport in the world is golf. According to some reports, the viewership in golf is at its highest in the past 12 years. For instance, there 8.5 million viewers during the 2018 PGA Championship which is way too high in comparison to the numbers of 2017. The number of views in 2017 for the same event was around 4.9 million. Similar figures have been coming up from other golf tournaments as well. This clearly shows that the golf industry is in its best shape at the moment.
Rugby | 475 Million
Just like golf, rugby is also breaking all records when it comes to viewership. During the Rugby World Cup 2018, the United States of America witnessed around 1.365 million viewers. The rise of viewership in rugby started to rise since 2019 RWC. It is also interesting to note that rugby’s viewership is not just increasing in America, but I’m Asia as well. This clearly shows the success of rugby as a whole in the sports industry.
Baseball | 500 Million
Baseball is one of those rarest sports which is witnessing a steady decline in the number of viewers at the moment. The viewership of Major League Baseball saw a drop of over 4% in its viewership which is definitely not a piece of good news for this sport. The number of spectators which it from the stadium have also declined as the MLB attendance dropped to less than 70 million. This is the worst number that sport hit in the last 15 years. Nonetheless, it still finds the seventh spot in the list of the most popular sports in the world.
Table Tennis | 875 Million
Just like almost every other sport, Table Tennis is also witnessing massive success in terms of the number of users. The 2017 World Table Tennis Championship successfully managed to break all social media and other viewership records. In India also, with the advent of a sports league like Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT), viewership has increased even more. Also, 2018 World Team Championships was the most followed Table Tennis team event in the world.
Volleyball | 900 Million
It is quite surprising to find volleyball so high in the list of the most-watched sports in the world. It also expected that soon it would also be touching the landmark of 1 billion viewers. For context, the viewership of Pro Volleyball was 14.3 million in week one on just television. This clearly shows the emerging trend of volleyball as a sport. Also, the owners target to make the second leg of this event even more grander.
Tennis | 1 Billion
Tennis is a star-sport and hence, has a lot of sponsorships. This clearly results in a massive viewership for this sport, and we witness some really record-breaking number every year. The number of viewers keeps on getting better in every tournament than they are in the last edition. This year there was a 33% hike during the final match of the US Open where Rafael Nadal won in the five-set game.
Field Hockey | 2 Billion
Field Hockey emerges to be at the fourth position in the list of the most-watched sports all around the world. A great example of this was the 2018 Hockey World Cup that took place in Odisha. During this event, a large amount of audience turnout was seen in the stadiums cheering for their respective teams. Not only just that, but a large amount of audience viewership was also recorded on television and online. This clearly showcases the fact that the charm of this sport is still there
Basketball | 2.2 Billion
Basketball is, without a doubt, one of the most popular sports in the world a. The numbers for the viewership of the National Football League are always higher than they are in the previous year. Also, the overall ratings for NBA matches this year was at their maximum in the last four years. But they had to face a significant setback in the final match where the numbers were lowest in comparison to the past ten years.
Cricket | 2.5 Billion
Cricket is the second most popular sports in the world with around 2.5 billion viewers. These numbers play a really crucial in the subcontinent region as the fan-following for this sport is absolutely tremendous here. If we talk in context to India, a traditional bastion of the Gentleman’s game, there has been a massive growth of 48% in the number of female viewers. This has definitely played a key role in increasing the viewership of this sport.
Football | 4 Billion
One of the oldest games in history, football is also the most popular sport all over the world. With a following of close to 4 billion, the gulf between the viewership of cricket and football is quite massive. However, cricket still rules the roost ahead of the sport. For example, the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup was viewed by 315 million individuals across the country, whereas the 2018 FIFA World Cup could manage only 117 million. A lot of efforts are being made to enhance the viewership of this sport. A result of this was seen during the FIFA World Cup 2018 where the numbers grew majestically. The initiative of starting ISL has also done wonders in this direction.