11 World’s Most Popular Sports (Ranked by 13 factors)

24 Sep

Sports journalists have been facing
this conundrum of ranking sports for
some time now. Every now and then
we see contradictory rankings of
most popular sports alleviating
whatever confidence we had in those
reports. For ranking any sport’s
popularity it is imperative that we set
the criteria for ranking first. If TV
viewership of any sports is the
criteria then Beijing Olympics 2008
was by far the most watched
sporting event with over 1 Billion
people tuning in at some point
during the Olympics event. For us TV
viewership isn’t the only criteria for a
sports popularity rather it should be
the number of other factors
combined to get the best popularity
Criteria used
1. Global base & audience
2. TV Viewership numbers
3. Number Professional leagues
around the world
4. TV rights deals
5. Endorsement & Sponsorship
6. Average athlete salary in top
7. Biggest competition &
(number of
countries represented)
8. Social media presence
9. Prominence in sports
headlines on media outlets
(websites, tv)
10. Relevancy through the year
11. Regional dominance
12. Gender equality
13. Accessible to general public
These are the factors we consider in
ranking the top 25 sports in the
world. So lets begin our countdown
for the biggest, most popular sports
in thew World.
#1. Football/Soccer
With over 4 billion followers of
football, it is by far the most
popular sport in the world.
Considering all of our criteria
factors football top most of them
we have discussed major factors
which makes football’s popularity
Football’s dominance over the globe
is so obvious that it really shouldn’t
be a surprise for anyone to see
football’s name at the top of the list.
The Beautiful Game, as they call it,
has fans in as east as Japan and as
West as America but nowhere on
earth is this game more popular than
in Europe. For most European
nations, it’s not just a game rather
it’s a way of life. FIFA World Cup is
the most iconic event of this sport
which is not only the most watched
team event but also one of the
highest paying competitions in the
whole sports world.
Football is one of the most accessible
sport in the world and there is hardly
anyone in this world who has not
kick a ball at some point in their life.
Football dominate sports headlines in
some of the major countries in the
world including almost all European
nations like United Kingdom,
Germany, France, Spain etc. In South
America football is more than just a
game, it represent dreams and joy
for kids in Brazil, Argentina and other
latin countries. Lets take a look at
some of the statistics which will put
every argument to rest that Football
is the biggest and most popular sport
in the world.
Most watched competition in the
world: Football World Cup is by far
the most watched sports competition
in the world. 3.9 billion people tune
in at some point during the FIFA
World Cup 2014 making it by far the
biggest sport competition. While the
final of 2014 world cup was watched
by as many 700 million people all
around the globe.
Highest paying sports
competitions: $1.5 Billion is
awarded in prize money and bonuses
every year in UEFA Champions
league, which is the european elite
club competition where clubs from
54 countries participate. in fact four
of the top 5 competitions with
highest prize money are football
events (Champions League, FIFA
World Cup, Europa League, UEFA
Most expensive sports TV rights
deal: English Premier League (English
top football division) is the most
watched professional sport league in
the world. it broadcast in 212
territories across the world with over
5 billion viewer tuning in to live
action at some point every season.
SkySports and BT Sports paid over
£5.3 billion to get premier league
rights in the UK for three years while
another £3 billion will be generated
from international rights.
Most professional leagues: Football
can boost most professional leagues
in the world with over 50 top
countries have established
professional leagues, in most case
multiple tie based leagues.
Biggest sport kit deals: Adidas pay
£75 million a year to Manchester
United to be their official kit
suppliers which is the biggest kit deal
in the world. most of the top teams
has lucrative kit deals with big sports
Highest Paid Athletes: Top players
like Ronaldo and Messi are paid
around £300,000 a week in salary by
their respective clubs while Ronaldo
and Messi also feature in the top 5
of the most endorsed athletes in the
Richest Sports Teams: If we talk
about the richest sports team in the
world, around 30 clubs feature in the
top 50 list of most valuable sports
Football international federation
called “FIFA” is the biggest and most
power federation in sports. Over 200
national federations and over 6500
professional clubs from around the
world are registered with FIFA. FIFA
also has the biggest sports database
of players and teams from around
the world.
Most popular Sports teams on
social media: Real Madrid and
Barcelona are by far the most
followed teams of any sport on social
media with over 100 million
followers each.
Most Followed Athlete: Cristiano
Ronaldo is by far the most followed
sports athlete with around 150
million followers on Facebook and
We can go on and on about how
popular football, you can compare
sports on any scale and Football will
come triumph in popularity. If there
is no doubt in what is the biggest
sports in the world, we will always be
in never ending debate about the
second most popular sport ? so which
one is it ? lets take a look.
#2. Basketball
Basketball has over 1 billion
followers. Its a major sport in USA
with NBA generating over $4.75
billion a year in revenue.
Established Professional leagues
in Spain, Greece, Turkey, Italy,
France, Argentina, China and
more leagues getting setup every
year makes it the fastest growing
sport in the world.
There will always be an argument
which sport is the second most
popular behind Football ? Well as far
as last 10 years data about revenues
from professional league, tv contracts
and general sport popularity is
concerned Basketball has kind of gain
massive popularity outside of its
home America. Basketball is fast
becoming a big sport in Canada,
China, Spain, Philippines, Australia,
Turkey, France, Germany and some
other minor european countries like
poland etc.
We can safely say that no sport in
the world can match Football’s
popularity (in some cases obsession)
but Basketball do have a scope to
establish itself as undisputed second
biggest sport in the world behind
football. Here are some interesting
facts which goes to show how
popular Basketball really is.
Second most number of
professional leagues worldwide:
Basketball is second only to Football
in terms of professional sports
league’s around the world. NBA is of
course the biggest one but in
countries like Spain, Turkey and
Chinese Basketball leagues are
pretty big. here are some of the
biggest basketball leagues around
the world.
1. NBA (American) and other
lower tier leagues starting
from College basketball. NBA
is by far the biggest
basketball professional
league by a long margin but
other leagues are also doing
pretty well mostly in europe.
2. Liga ACB (Spain) also has two
more lower tier leagues.
(Europe’s finest basketball
league and basketball is the
second biggest sport in spain
as their national team
success shows who won 11
european titles in basketball.
3. Heba A1 (Greece) , Heba A2
is tier two league.
4. Liga Nacional (Argentina)
5. Lega Basket Serie A (Italy) ,
Legadue is tier 2
6. Turkish Basketball League
7. Chinese Basketball
Association (China)
8. French Pro A League (France)
third most powerful sports league
in the world: NBA (American
basketball league) is the third biggest
professional league in all
sports behind NFL (American
football) and Premier League
(Football/Soccer) in terms of revenue
over $4.75 billion was generated in
2014 in terms of revenue.
Highest Average Salary: NBA
average yearly salary for athlete is
around $4.4 million a year, thats
second highest average wage of any
sport league in the world. While top
40 players in NBA earn more than
$13 million a year in salary while top
10 earn more than $22 million a year
with Kobe Bryant earning as much as
$25 million a year.
Endorsement Deals: Lebrone
James, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant
features in the top 10 list of highest
paid athletes with their massive
salaries and endorsement deals with
take their yearly income well over
$50 million a year.
Fastest growing sport: Basketball is
also the fastest growing sport on
every scale from revenues, to
competitions/leagues. More and
more professional leagues are
getting established in countries
across the world, specially in easter
european countries like Poland,
Hungary, Czech Republic, Serbia,
Lithuania where basketball is easily
the second favorite sport.
#3. Cricket
Estimated 2 billion+ followers
makes cricket one of the most
popular sport mainly in
commomwealth countries like
England, India, Pakistan,
Bangladesh, Australia, New
Zealand, Carribeans and South
This is where the eyebrows get
raised. A large chunk of human
population remains oblivious to the
existence of this sport yet it has the
second highest fan following among
all the sports in the world. Cricket
owes its popularity to the Indian
Sub-continent, Australia and England.
Originated in England, the game
quickly became popular in all the
swaths of lands that were once
colonized by the Great Britain. In the
middle of 20th Century, Britain left
almost all its colonies but one thing
which never left was cricket.
In India and Pakistan, together which
constitute a 5th of world’s
population, cricket is a religion. It is a
source of patriotism, an excuse for
defusing tensions between arch rivals
and synonym of competition. T20 is
cricket’s latest format which is
creating waves in other countries as
well and now more and more
countries are taking up this sport at
professional level.
Third most watched
competition: become the third
most watched sports competition in
the world behind FIFA World Cup and
Rugby World Cup. While new format
Twenty20 has enabled domestic
leagues in several countries with
expensive team franchises are being
sold which shows the future of
T20 professional league: Almost all
top cricketing nations has
established lucrative domestic T20
leagues where players from foreign
countries also take part. Indian
premier League is the biggest
domestic t20 league where along
with local indian players,
foreign players from 16 countries
take part.
All Star Cricket In USA: Back in
november 2015 three shorter format
exhibition games were held in USA in
three different venues including New
York, Houston and Los Angeles. The
receptions was pretty good with
Americans turning out in big
Cricket is a dominating sport in
many countries specially from indian-
sub continent. Pakistan, Indian,
Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh
while England, Australia, New
Zealand and South Africa are other
big cricketing nations with cricket as
second favorite sport. Cricket is also
very popular in Caribbeans with
international team callled West
Indies is comprised of players from
different countries
across Caribbeans. Cricket also has
its roots in countries like Ireland,
Zimbabwe, Kenya, Holland.
Women Cricket: Women cricket is
growing fast in most cricket loving
countries. ICC (International cricket
council) has increased the tv
coverage and prize money women
competitions and women are now
paid 50% more than they did 5 years
#4. Tennis
A global reach and over a 1 billion
followers makes Tennis the most
popular individual based sport. It
comes up triumph in many of our
criteria factors.
A truly universal game and unlike the
other team sports listed above
Tennis is mainly an individual based
game which is very popular across
the world. Specially Its four biggest
events called “Grand Slams” where
top matches are often the most
watched sports matches every year.
Unlike the other sports Tennis is
equally popular for men and women
across the world. In fact Tennis is
one of the rare sport in the world
which represent gender equality with
same prize money for men and
women competitions.
Highest prize money in individual
sport: All four grand slams, Australia
Open, French Open, Wimbledon and
US offer huge prize money and the
prize money given to winners mens
and women singles event is the
highest in any of the individual sport.
The most global calendar
year: Tennis events divided in four
categories (ATP 250, ATP 500, ATP
Masters and Grand Slams) takes
place around the world throughout
every years. Only football has more
global venues than Tennis which is
coverage in almost every part of the
Most prestigious sport event:
Wimbledon is not only the most
prestigious tennis event but also in
all sport. Over 1 billion people tune
in at some point during Wimbledon
2015 and 2014. While 17.3 million
viewers tuned in to BBC One only in
UK in 2013 Wimbledon final.
Tennis is the most dominant sport
during May to June every year (well
unless there is a football world cup)
because French Open and
Wimbledon are held back to back and
tennis headline the sports section of
media outlets in UK, US and some
other big countries.
Tennis is also the most accessible
sport and since both mens and
women game are widely given the
same respect the ration of fans is
pretty much 50/50 in terms of
gender compare to other top sport
where male dominate the sport.
Highest paid tennis stars: Roger
Federer and Rafael Nadal were the
two highest paid tennis player and
they also feature in the top 10 list of
highest paid athletes in the world for
best part of last 10 years.
Gender equality in tennis: While
Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams
are most successful women tennis
players and they also featured in the
top 20 highest paid athlete list at
some point of their careers.
Djokovic and Federer are close to
earn $100 million in career prize
money only Tiger woods (golf) has
won more in prize money in
individual sport.
Champions from 30 different
countries: Around 45 countries are
represented in top 100 tennis
ranking in both mens and women.
While tennis players (both mens and
women) from 30 different countries
has won at least 1 grand slam making
it a unique record in sport.
#5. Athletics
Athletic is by far the most global
sport of them all which include
several disciplines of course with
Running, long jump and other track/
field events. Athletics is also the high
point of Olympic games as Athletics
based sports are the most watched
during any Olympic event.
Some of the iconic athletes have
been gold medalists in track and field
sport and swimming. Current
undisputed running/sprint sport
champion Usain Bolt was the most
talked about athlete during 2012
Olympic games in London and 2008
Equally popular with both
genders: Just like tennis there is
large degree of equality in Athletics
with almost all disciplines are
represented by both men and
Marion Jones is one of many great
women athletes who made their
names in Athletics. Jones who rose
to absolute stardom after her 3 gold
medals and 2 bronze in 2000 Sydney
olympics was later stripped of the
titles after admitting the use of
Most countries represented in
Athletics: Athletics is the most
represented sport in the olympics
with athletes from almost all
countries participating in some form
of the diciplines in Athletics.
Most watched single olympic
event: 100m final gold medal sprint
race in 2012 Olympics was the most
watched event in Olympic history
with over 1 billion tv views across
the world.
#6. Rugby
Rugby is a major sport in some of the
most economical developed
countries like All four home nations
of United Kindom (England, Wales,
Ireland and Scotland) in souther
hemisphere countries like Australia,
New Zealand and South africa also
boost huge popularity in Rugby.
Professional Leagues: France has
the best Rugby league in the world
and most of highest paid rugby
players play for French clubs. While
the game is growing fast in countries
like Japan, Italy, Argentina, pacific
countries and even in United States.
The best way to measure Rugby
popularity is through recently
concluded Ruby world numbers.
Second most lucrative Sports
World Cup: 2015 Rugby World Cup
was the biggest Rugby event in
history which took place in England
and Wales. It generated in access
of £250 million in revenue which was
alot more than what was expected.
Second most watched & Attended
competition: Rugby world cup 2015
was the most attended sports event
behind FIFA World cup 2014. Over
2.47 million tickets were sold with
around half a million (480,000) fans
traveling from oversees (24
120 million tune in to watch New
Zealand beat South Africa in the final
of 2015 world cup. While 1 fifth of
Japan population tune in to watch
Japan vs Samoa. Which was
significant as Rugby is a growing sport
in Japan.
Highest ever TV ratings in UK:
ITV’s coverage of opening ceremony
and opening England match was
watched by 8.7 million UK viewers
on average making it the most
watched sports event in UK.
Healthy Social media presence:
#rwc2015 was used once every two
seconds on twitter during the 2015
world cup which goes to show the
global reach of the game.
#7. Formula 1:
550 million people tune in every
year at some stage of Formula 1
season which runs from March to
November. F1 is by far the most
popular motoSport in the world.
It might not be the most accessible
sport in the world but in terms of
sheer following Formula 1 is the
undisputed biggest motor racing
sport. With around 20 grand prix
races every year in 20 different
countries it is one of the most global
sport around. Although the recent
trend in TV viewership numbers is
going down but Formula 1 still racks
in healthy 500 million a year. the
decline from around a billion to 500
million is largely down to Formula 1
turning to ppv in many countries.
Most lucrative motor-sport: As far
as the yearly revenue is concerned
Formula 1 generate somewhere
between $1.5 to $2 billion a year.
Which is soundly distributed among
10 f1 teams who in return spend
between $100 million to $500
million a season on elite level motor
engineers, research & development
and of course on driver salaries.
Massive driver contracts: On
formula 1 drivers makes around $5
million a year while the top drivers
like Sebastian Vettel who has a $50
million a year contract with Ferrari,
current world champion Lewis
Hamilton who signed a new deal
worth $40 million a year two of
the highest paid athletes around.
Cost of hosting a formula 1 grand
prix is around $250 million for a 10
year period but that does not mean
F1 is short on hopeful countries.
Every year if one circuit withdraw a
few more go into bidding war to host
f1 grand prix.
#8. Boxing
Only combat sport in the list, boxing
is truly global just like Tennis and
Athletics. Floyd Mayweather and
Manny Pacquiao has dominated the
rich list in last 10 years while boxing
also boost some of the greatest
athletes to have ever lived. Boxing is
major sport in countries like USA,
Mexico, Latin America, United
Kingdom, Philippines, Japan, Russia
and some eastern European
countries like Ukrain, Poland,
Amature boxing is also part of
Olympics and it is one of the popular
events during every olympic event.
Unlike professional boxing, Amature
boxing is represented by more
countries in olympics making it global
sport and one of the most accessible
around the world.
Most watched combat sport: Since
boxing a combat sport it is not
everyone cup of tea, but if you like
combat sports chances are Boxing is
your favourit sport. Mostly boxing is
everyone’s second favourit sport or
at-least they take interest in it
specially during big fights.
Women Boxing: It is quite popular
with women as well with plenty of
famous women champions. Laila Ali
and Lucia Rijker are the most famous
women world champions..
Highest grossing fight of all
times: Floyd Mayweather vs Many
Pacquiao was the highest grossing
boxing fight of all times generating
over $400 million in revenue. While
Mayweather took home record $250
from nights work while Pacquiao
earned $120. Both fighters has kind
of dominated forbes athlete rich-list
for best part of last 8 years.
#9. Ice Hockey
By far the biggest winter sport in the
world and although it is popular or
played in specific countries like
Canada, Russia, USA, Scandinavian
countries like (Denmark, Finland,
Norway, Sweden) some easter
european countries like Poland,
Slovakia, Czech Republic it can still
boost huge popularity specially
during the world championships and
european championships.
NHL is the biggest professional ice
hockey league in the world based in
Canada and US where players from
all parts of the world represent NHL
NHL is one of the biggest
professional sports league with
over $4.1 billion yearly revenue
keeping it in the top 5 pro sport
leagues like NFL, Premier League,
#10: Volleyball
With no intricacies involved, this
sport is as simple as you like. And
probably it is the simplicity of this
sport that makes it so famous among
its fans. Take a trip to the hunger
struck African countries or try going
to the beaches of Australia, you will
find people playing this sport
everywhere. On professional level,
players with tall heights are
preferred because of the extra reach
they have so if your height is
somewhere to the north of 6 feet,
you should fancy your chances in this
Most number of national
federations (200): Having said that
Volleyball has more national
federations than any other sport with
over 200 registered with FIVB.
Most popular in developing
countries: It is quite popular in
some of the developing countries
with the likes of Brazil, Turkey, South
Korea, some easter european nations
like Poland, Ukrain other european
countries like France, Italy and even
in Asian region like China, Japan.
#11. Golf:
Just lagging by few million fans, golf
is the 8th most famous game. A very
docile sport involving no real physical
competition and can be played by
people of all ages. For too long
American Golf Star, Tiger Woods,
overawed all his competitors through
his exquisite playing abilities but now
the sport has got some more
representatives who are spreading
this game to the farthest of places.
Did I forget to mention the amount
of money this sport involves? I
shouldn’t have because golf players
earn millions of dollars in prize
money and if they are as good as
Tiger Woods chances are you will be
richest athlete on planet.
Game for developed countries:
Golf is a major sport in some very
developed countries like US, UK,
Japan, Korea and even in South
Africa. Just like tennis Golf has its
four majors and the unique ryder cup
where US golfers go head to head
with European as a team.
Massive earning potential: Golf’s
very own Tiger Woods dominated the
athlete rich-list for best part of last
15 years largely down to his very
lucrative sponsorship deals with Nike,
EA Sports, Gillette and countless
other endorsement deals. So there
were our top 10
Credit:Total sporttek

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Posted by on September 24, 2016 in Uncategorized


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