Different sports are played all over the world as hobbies, careers or as a part of fitness regimes. Some sports have grown to be more popular than others, attracting billions of fans, so we compiled this list based on participation, TV viewership and rights, prominence in the media, global spread, and salaries at the top level. As the world’s number 1 crowdfunding site for sports, we’ve worked with athletes, teams, and organisations from almost every sport around the world to raise money through sports crowdfunding. The list we’ve compiled are the ten most popular sports in the world today.
Volleyball is as straightforward as you like. In fact, it is probably the simplicity of the game that makes it so famous among its fans. Take a trip to African countries or visit the beaches of Australia and you will find people playing this sport and you will find people playing this sport. Volleyball is truly one of the most popular sports and has 200 national federations for the sport, more than any other sport on the planet.
9. Ice Hockey
Ice Hockey is not only one of the most popular sports in the world but is the most popular winter sport by quite a margin. While the sport has its strongest following in Canada, USA, Russia, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, there is no doubting its global presence.
The National Hockey League (NHL) is comprised of clubs from the US and Canada who’s teams are made up of players from around the world. The league itself ranks among the five most popular on the planet as it turns an annual revenue of $4.1 billion.
The sole representative of combat sports on our list, boxing has fought tooth and nail to mix it with the most popular sports year-on-year. Boxing is a major sport in countries across every single continent and the sheer volume of talent can particularly be seen during the Olympic Games.
Boxing’s popularity has steadily risen, its growth earmarked by the $400m revenue generated by Mayweather v Pacquiao in 2015 and the record 90,000 sell-out attendance at the Joshua v Klitschko fight at Wembley in 2017.
7. Formula 1
With 20 Grand Prix every year in 20 different countries, Formula 1 is one of the most global and most popular sports and has an annual TV audience of over 500 million.
According to Forbes, 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.
Rugby is played in the majority of countries around the world, while it is strongest on in the Southern Hemisphere, in the UK, and in Ireland. As one of the most popular sports in the world, Rugby boasts the second most lucrative and most attended sporting World Cup of all-time with the 2015 Rugby World Cup selling 2.47 million tickets and generating £250m in revenue. In addition, 120 million tuned into the tournament’s final and #rwc2015 was used on average once every two seconds during the tournament’s entirety.
Truly one of the most popular sports around the world, athletics represents several disciplines including running, high jump and long jump, as well as other track and field events.
Athletics has the flagship events of each Olympics and this was proven as the 2012 100-metre final was the most watched single Olympic event in the Games’ history with over 1 billion television viewers tuning in from across the globe.
With an average of 45 countries represented in top 100 tennis ranking in both the men’s and women’s game, tennis is without question among the world’s most popular sports. Furthermore, players from both the men’s and women’s game, from 30 different countries, have won at least one grand slam, making it a unique record in sport.
Over 1 billion people tuned in at some point during Wimbledon 2014, 2015 and 2016, while an average of over 17 million tunes into the UK-only BBC One channel for the tournament’s men’s final.
With an estimated 2 billion followers, cricket is one of the most popular sports in the world. The Twenty20 league is the third most-viewed sporting event behind the FIFA World Cup and Rugby World Cup.
Women’s cricket is growing rapidly, which shows the spread of the sport’s support worldwide. The ICC (International Cricket Council) has increased television coverage and prize money for women’s competitions and female players are now paid 50% more than they did 5 years ago.
With over 1 billion fans, the second-highest number of professional leagues worldwide, and the highest average salary at the top level ($4.4m), basketball is the world’s fastest growing sport.
Basketball is the fastest growing sport on every scale from revenue, to competitions/leagues. More and more professional leagues are being established in countries across the world, especially in eastern European countries like Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Serbia, and Lithuania.
Couple this growth with basketball’s already-established pro leagues in the US, Greece, Spain, Turkey, Italy, China, Argentina, and France and it’s not hard to see why Basketball ranks highly on the list of most popular sports.
With over 4 billion fans worldwide, soccer is the clear No.1 choice on our most popular sports list. 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.
Soccer has the highest viewership (3.9 billion tuned into the 2014 World Cup at some point), the highest prize money (€1.5 billion awarded in prizes and bonuses in the Champions League), the most expensive TV right (Sky paid £5.3 billion in 2016 to air the Premier League), as well as the biggest kit deals and richest clubs with 30 of the top 50 richest sports teams coming in the form of soccer clubs. Soccer’s popularity is unrivalled by al and it looks set to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
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*A number of resources were referenced when compiling this list, including Total Sportek.