As sports fans we’re truly blessed to have an array of matches, tournaments, competitions and more to enjoy each and every day. Whether this is on a domestic or a global level, we’re certainly not short on things to watch, but despite this variety, it’s fair to say some sports have bigger audiences than others.
As such, this begs the question of ‘which sports have the most fans?’. Well, to answer this common query we’ve consulted the latest data to breakdown the estimated sizes of the fanbases of some of the world’s most popular sports. Here’s what we found:
Soccer/Association Football – estimated global fanbase of 4.04 billion
Football’s staggeringly huge fanbase is said to stem from a winning combination of accessibility and marketing. Almost anyone can play and understand the game and now some of the world’s biggest stars are footballers, so it’s not hard to see the global appeal.
Cricket – estimated global fanbase of 2.5 billion
Cricket is second most popular sport in the world with a particular dominance – in terms of both playing it and watching it – in England, Australia, India and Pakistan. We can attribute this popularity in part to the sport’s long history and the fact that it’s the sport of choice across the Indian subcontinent, which has opened it up to an audience in the billions rather than the millions.
Tennis – estimated global fanbase of 875 million
Of all the racket sports, tennis by far has the biggest fanbase and comfortably features in the global top 10. Its popularity is another example of how an easily accessible sport can lead to a large following, as it’s also something that can be played by a wide range of abilities and ages. From a professional level, it’s also incredibly lucrative and has an annual calendar brimming with many revered events and competitions.
Rugby union – estimated global fanbase of 476 million
With its entertaining displays of strength, skill and brute force, the gladiatorial sport of rugby union unsurprisingly commands an impressive fanbase, what’s more, its global audience is growing at pace. However, it’s particularly popular in nations like England, South Africa, Ireland and France, who coincidently are some of the world’s best international sides.
Golf – estimated global fanbase of 451 million
Golf’s sizeable fanbase might come as a surprise to some, but this is another instance of a sport being a success because it’s something almost anyone can watch, play and enjoy. It’s also not as intense to get involved with as other sports, meaning it can be accessed by different generations all at the same time.