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Is the Super Bowl the Most Watched Sporting Event in the World?

Posted by on February 3, 2013

You hear it every year, sports broadcasters breathlessly announcing that there are a billion people watching the game worldwide. “The most watched sporting event worldwide,” is the yearly call. While the game has stunning viewership numbers, is it really true? Most publically available information says, “no.” Alongside the hyperbole about the financial boon for the host city, this misinformation ranks at the top of the Super Bowl misinformation table.

The financial benefits of hosting the game have been well discussed in other locations but suffice to say the figures of a $300 million boost for the local economy is not even close. Most figures put the amount at the high end at $30 million (certainly not insignificant) but on average hovering considerably below that. Back to viewing numbers, the available figures put the Super Bowl as being watched in approximately 100 million homes. A billion people? Sure must be crowded for people who would have to be watching each of those screens to get that number to a billion.

The most watched yearly sporting event is consistently a game from Soccer’s English Premier League. And what’s the most watched sporting event ever? It turns out to be a Cricket game! It was a World Cup match featuring India vs. Pakistan. It’s wasn’t even the final game of the season! Perhaps in the US, it’s hard to concieve of other world sporting events being as widely watched as our own American Football. A little perspective, however, never ruins our love for the game, but maybe we should take what the marketers say with a little grain of salt.

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