5 Monaco Grand Prix
Held annually since 1929, the Monaco Grand Prix is considered by most auto racing enthusiasts to be the premier event of the racing season. The race garners an average viewership of around 25 million people each year, with the numbers growing as auto racing becomes ever more popular. That said, the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix actually had one of the worst turnouts as far as viewership is concerned, largely because an omnipresent chance of rain threatened to interrupt the race at any time.
4 Super Bowl XLVI
Super Bowl XLVI, in 2012, was the most watched “big game” in the history of the NFL. The match, which pitted the NY Giants against the New England Patriots, drew around 111.5 million viewers. When you consider how (relatively) few people outside of North America care about American football, that’s a proportionally huge number of folks tuning in to watch the Pats lose.
3 ICC Cricket World Cup Championship
In 2011, a different World Cup – the ICC Cricket World Cup championship – gave soccer a run for its money. The most watched match, interestingly enough, was not the final game, but rather the semi-final match between bitter rivals India and Pakistan played on March 30. The game might have been watched by as many as a billion people, but was surely seen by at least several hundred million simultaneous viewers.
2 The Olympics
The Olympics may draw more overall viewers during their multi-day run than any single sporting event, but it’s not a sport itself that attracts the biggest Olympic audience. The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in 2008 is estimated to have drawn nearly 600 million pairs of eyeballs at any given moment, making it a close match for the 2010 World Cup final match.
1 FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup is the quadrennial soccer championship held every four years since 1930 (with two exceptions as a result of that whole WWII thing). The Cup’s final game is the single most viewed sporting event on earth. The 2010 match between Spain and The Netherlands was watched by an estimated 700 million people. That’s a decent chunk of the world’s entire population.
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