How do the largest sporting events worldwide compare?

Mineirinho Arena

Mineirinho Arena

No matter where you are located in the world, sport is something that unites all of us. The list of the most-watched television broadcasts is dominated by various sporting events, with certain events like the Olympics and FIFA World Cup attracting viewers worldwide. In individual countries, however, the largest sporting events can be compared more easily. So, how do these big sporting events compare in terms of spectacle? And which is the most popular in each location?



Synonymous with a variety of sports, the UK is one of the biggest players in terms of sports viewership per person. One of the largest events in the UK is the Grand National with the three-day meeting regularly drawing in an attendance of over 150,000 people. As well as this, millions regularly watch the race unfold on TV. One of the pulls of the National to UK viewers is its links with betting, with the National seen as one of the biggest betting events of the year. The Grand National 2021 ante-post betting with Betfair’s exchange has already seen over £90,000 matched on the race, and this number is likely to grow exponentially as we get closer to race day.



American football has a huge following in the US, and this can be best seen by looking at the average Super Bowl attendances – with attendances of over 70,000 people regularly watching the game unfold live. The record attendance for a Super Bowl is currently the 103,985 crowd that saw the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV. As well as those watching live, the Super Bowl often pulls in over 100 million TV viewers. To show the Super Bowl’s dominance over other US sporting events, twenty-nine of the top thirty most-watched American TV broadcasts are Super Bowls.



 Whilst European Championships in both athletics and football regularly draw in a high number of viewers, few events have the pull on a sport as the Tour de France does on cycling. The recent 2020 Tour de France pulled in over 40 million domestic TV viewers, with an estimated 12 to 15 million spectators lining the streets over the entirety of the three-week cycling event.


South America

South America is well known for its passionate sports fans, with an unofficial 199,854 said to be in attendance at Brazil’s Maracana stadium for the 1950 World Cup Final – a record attendance for an enclosed stadium. In Argentina, the polo at Palermo – referred to as the River Plate Polo Championship between 1893-1923 – is one of the biggest sporting events. Thousands regularly flock to watch the polo at Palermo, with many more tuning in to catch the action on TV.

 Whilst these are just a handful of the major sporting events worldwide, they help to show the pull that sport has on us. Whether it be from watching the action unfold live – or on TV – the most popular sports around the world regularly see astronomical viewing figures. As stadiums to facilitate these events continue to be built, and TV broadcasts reach new audiences, expect the largest sporting events worldwide to keep attracting huge audiences.

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