The Most Watched Sporting Events In The World

The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic Games attracted viewers from around the world. Editorial credit: Freer /
The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic Games attracted viewers from around the world. Editorial credit: Freer /

Sporting events around the world garner a huge viewership from all over the globe. Viewership is especially easier in this age because technology has become more widespread and accessible to more people. These sporting events range from soccer tournaments such as the FIFA World Cup all the way to the Olympics. Despite being among the most popular sports in the world, soccer events are not at the top of this list.

The Most Watched Sporting Events in the World

The most watched sporting events in the world are the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. Data shows that the London 2012 Olympic Games have the highest ever number of viewers among sporting events in the world. With an incredible number of 3.6 billion viewers in the world, the 2012 London Olympics are followed closely by the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing which had 3.5 billion viewers. Three events are in the third position with a global audience of 3.2 billion viewers each. These three events are the 2010 South Africa FIFA World Cup, the 2014 Brazil FIFA World Cup, and the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The only other event with a global audience past the 3 billion people is the Germany 2006 World Cup.

London 2012 Olympic Games

A number of reasons have been attributed to the monumental success that the London Olympic Games of 2012 had. First, there was impeccable coordination between the volunteers for the event, the public, and the British military. Another thing that worked out perfectly was the wonderful opening ceremony that was directed by Danny Boyle which set the perfect atmosphere for the games. History was also made during those games when women’s boxing was introduced. Also, every country eligible for the games had sent at least one female competitor for the games.

Beijing 2008 Olympic Games

The legacy of Beijing during the 2008 Olympics was also cemented after hosting an extremely successful event. There are three things that are attributed to the success of the event; failure in the materialization of terrorist threats, the air quality was good, and there was no athlete who complained on stage. Because of the huge success, Beijing was awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics which will make it the first city to hold the summer and the winter games.

South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup

One of the things that made the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa a huge success was the simple fact that the games were being held in Africa for the very first time. In addition, there were hundreds of media houses who wanted to broadcast the historic tournament. The deal was made even better for the media when most experts predicted that the games would have the highest global audience among all television events.

Other Notable Events

The 2010 Winter Olympic Games held in Vancouver had the least number of global viewers on this list with an audience of 1.8 billion people. Despite being last on this list, there are not many television events who can boast of having such a huge audience. One of the reasons that may have contributed to the relatively low audience was Vancouver’s reluctance in decorating the city as is the case with host cities. Safety was also an issue.

The Most Watched Sporting Events In The World

RankSporting EventGlobal Audience Reach (in billions)
1London 2012 Olympic Games3.6
2Beijing 2008 Olympic Games3.5
3South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup3.2
4Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup3.2
5Rio 2016 Olympic Games3.2
6Germany 2006 FIFA World Cup3.0
7Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games2.1
8UEFA Euro 2016 France2.0
9Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games1.8

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