The debate regarding the most popular and most watched sport in the world has been a long going one as everyone supports their most loved sport. This is the dilemma that sports journalists and personalities are trying to find a solution for. A number of lists have been created by several persons. But their ideas contradict to some extent and a mutual consent seems almost impossible. Here is a list of top 10 most popular sports in the world based on several factors like the global following, TV viewers, the stability of the system of sport, the revenue it generates, endorsements and advertisements, social media presence etc.
Top 10 Most Popular Sports by Global Fan Base and Audience:
Golf is considered a game for the riches.
And no surprises that it has the largest professional prospect in the developed countries like Japan, USA, United Kingdom, South Africa and Korea. Although golf is the 10th most popular sports in the world, but it has the most revenue generation and big prize money to the players. A player with the abilities like that of Tiger woods could easily become the richest athlete on the planet. Golf has a following of 390 million fans around the globe.
9. American Football
With a fan following of 410 million, American football ties with basketball in terms of popularity. The games, basketball, and American football have their origin from the USA and are very much common in the region than in any other continent. The most popular league of American football is NFL that is played in the USA. The game overall generates a revenue of $10 billion annually.
A majority of the people around the world might not have held the baseball bat in their entire life, but in the countries like Japan and USA, baseball is enjoyed even on the street level. People of those regions are passionate about this sport and many opt to pursue a career in baseball since childhood. Both Japan and the USA have the biggest leagues in the world naming Nippon league and MLB respectively.
7. Table Tennis
Table Tennis is a game with not much professional platforms for the showcase of talent, but as a hobby, no sport comes near this indoor excitement that is widely played around the world. But when it comes to playing the game on a professional level, it is restricted to the countries like Indonesia, China, and Malaysia and, to some extent, India. It has an estimated fan following of 850 million.
You might not have expected it, but on the 6th spot is Volleyball. Volleyball is a simple game and this is the reason for it’s popularity. It is most popular in the developing regions of the world such as Turkey, Korea, Poland, Brazil, Italy, France, and many other European and African countries. In Asia, the game restricts to the countries like China and Japan.
With 900 million global following and over 200 national federations registered, Volleyball is the 5th most popular sports and has the most registered federations than any other sport.
With 1 billion fans from all around the globe, tennis is the 5th most followed sport. The previous 3 were all team games, whereas tennis is the first individual game in the list. The largest competitions of the tennis are the 4 grand slams. The unique thing about tennis is that there is gender equality. In all other sports like Football or cricket, women’s competitions don’t have the significance that men’s have.
In tennis, all competitions, whether ladies will be competing or gentlemen, have the equal prize money and are considered equally significant.
4. Field Hockey
With a fan following of 2 billion people, a majority from Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia, hockey secures the 4th spot in our list of top 10 most popular sports in the world. Hockey is the national sport of Pakistan and is most popular in the South Asian region that includes countries like India, Pakistan, China, and Malaysia.
A decade ago, it was widely played in Pakistan and India but has fallen from the grace as there aren’t any significant opportunities left on the professional level as much as in other games like football and cricket.
The United States is known as the home of basketball. With a fan following of 2.2 billion, basketball is the 3rd most followed sport in the world. There was a time when the game was restricted only to it’s home country. But at the moment, it’s popularity is increasing with a high rate and it might become one of the most popular sports by the next decade.
As far it’s economics is concerned, basketball has the second highest average salary of a player being $4.4 million a year. And a big star such as Kobe Bryant earns almost $25 million a year in salaries.
There is no dispute about which is the most popular sport in the world. It is definitely soccer and everyone agrees. But there are some disputes regarding the second place and according to our list, it is cricket. The game has a fan following of 2.5 billion people around the globe. There are a number of regions where people are even unaware of the existence of cricket. Australia, South Asia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom are the places where cricket is the most played, both on street level and professional level.
The immense rivalry of Pakistan and India is one of the most watched games in the world after FIFA World Cup final and the Spanish el-Classico. Cricket may not be generating big revenues like other sports, but in the areas where it is played, cricket is nothing less than an absolute passion and a matter of life and death for the fans and the players.
1. Football / Soccer
Well, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the most popular and watched game on the globe is football or soccer. With a following of almost 4 billion fans from every continent, the sport remains at the top with no other game coming close to it. Europe is the main hub of football where the game is played at the most competitive level.
The biggest competition in the club football is the UEFA Champions League in which Europe’s elite clubs compete for the silverware and loads of cash. A total of $1.5 Billion is given away in the competition to all the participating teams which is the highest prize money for a competition in all sports. Moreover, the most watched competition in the history has been the World Cup 2014. Stats show that a total of 770 million viewers tuned into the competition at any instant.
In terms of revenue generation and finance, football is the best sport in the business with the biggest sport kit deals, highest paid athletes like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and some of the richest clubs such as Real Madrid. The 37-year-old Portuguese international and Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo is currently the richest football player on the planet. He has a net worth of $500 million and he earned a total of $120 million in 2021.
He earned $55.4 million from Premier League club Manchester United through salary and bonuses for winning trophies. Moreover, his endorsement deals with several brands, including Nike, earned him loads. He also owns a hotel in Portugal and his personal clothing line with the name of CR7 lifestyle.