The boon of globalization and information technology has brought with it numerous new sports from regional parts of the world. Every year, fans around the world are welcomed with revolutionary events that introduce these sports. However, with the popularity of sporting events increasing rapidly across many countries, numerous people often wonder whether there is a specific sport that reigns over the others. Although this debate might get too infuriating for some hardcore fans, the following article provides viewership evidence. This proves which sports hold the highest viewership worldwide based on sports news articles and research papers. 

Sports news – Counting down the top 5 most popular sports in the world. 

The world today consists of over 150 different sports. From football to volleyball, cricket to rugby, tennis to basketball, numerous countries specialize in different sports and hence hold a strong viewership for that particular sport. However, based on sports news collected from different websites, below is a list of the 5 most popular sports (across the world) – 

  1. Cricket – It is one of the most popular sports in Australia and South Asia. Cricket has slowly risen over the past 20 years to become the second most viewed and followed sport worldwide. In the last decade alone, the annual viewership of cricket has increased from 1.8 billion viewers to 2.5 billion viewers. Moreover, with the rise in popularity of domestic leagues, numerous analysts believe that this figure is only going to increase in the future. 
  1. Soccer/football – Although numerous sites often debate over different sports and their ranking on this list (based on worldwide viewership). Almost every website agrees that football (or soccer) is the most popular sport. In 2021, football pulled in a mammoth viewership of over 3.5 billion people (approximately). However, most people believe that it is because of numerous global events that the sport has to offer. Some also believe that some global icons like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi make the sport more popular. Ronaldo is also the most followed individual on Instagram, with over 359 million followers. Thus, the presence of such global sporting icons along with numerous global events that pull in massive viewership is what makes football the most popular sport in the world. 
  2. Basketball – Basketball is another sport that has seen a significant rise in popularity over the last twenty years. However, basketball’s viewership is extremely concentrated in North American countries due to their involvement in the NBA. Last year, the sport pulled in a viewership of over 2.2 billion followers, with NBA itself pulling in an average viewership of 1.19 million individuals per match.
  3. Field Hockey – Field hockey is also considered one of the most popular sports in the world, with over 2 billion followers. Similar to cricket, Field Hockey also acclimates most of its viewership from Australasia. 
  4. Tennis – Lawn tennis is undoubtedly one of the fastest-growing sports in the modern era. The sporting legends like Pete Sampras, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer have allowed the sport to be identified globally, which has certainly surged average global viewership. Last year, the sport saw a viewership of almost 1 billion followers, making it the 5th popular sport on our list. 

Please note: The aforementioned list is not concrete and is subject to change (depending on an individual’s criteria of judgment). The criteria of judgment used to generate the list depends on several key factors, including (but not limited to) – 

  • The global fan base and audience demographic 
  • Average viewership globally 
  • Popularity on the internet and social media has led to an increase in the viewership of the above-mentioned sports. 

To conclude, although there has been a massive rise in global viewership of various sporting events, there is no doubt that according to sports news sites the popularity of some sports differs from others. However, football is still the most popular sport, with a global viewership of 3.5 billion people. Along with the introduction of technology and globalization and its impact on the sports industry would likely change the above-mentioned statistic radically in the future.