La Vanguardia has a list of the ten most watched on TV sports events of 2007. They were:
1. NFL Super Bowl, 97 million
2. Formula 1 Grand Prix of Brazil, 78 m.
3. Champions' League final, 72 m.
4. Rugby world championship final, 33 m.
5. World Cup track 100 meters, 24 m.
6. World Series final game, 24 m.
7. World Cup team handball final, 23 m.
8. Masters, last day, 21 m.
9. Wimbledon men's final, 21 m.
10. World Cup cricket final, 20 m.
I'm not actually that surprised; since it's not either an Olympic year nor the soccer World Cup, that's pretty much what I'd have figured. The article points out that 87 million of the Super Bowl viewers were Americans, and only 10 million were foreigners (and most of that lot probably Canadian). If we except the NFL as a peculiarly American phenomenon, then the world's biggest sports are, in order:
Auto racing is the only sport big in every country in the world. There are lots of places where even soccer, generally considered the world's most popular sport, is not played, such as India and China.
The only one I don't get is team handball. What a retarded sport. If I ran a handball team, I'd sign up a six-foot-eight major league pitcher who can throw 95 miles an hour, pass to him every play, and have him fire away right at the goalie's nads every time. By the way, 16 million of the 23 million viewers were Germans.
Reminds me of a story from Jim Bouton's Ball Four. Back in 1963 the young flamethrowing Boston pitcher Dick Radatz was approached by a gentleman who invited him up to his hotel room, where he had a crate of oranges. Seems that the gentleman was a fetishist, and was willing to pay a couple of hundred bucks for Radatz to, and I quote, "throw oranges at his ass. Some of those oranges weren't too ripe, either, and they opened up some huge welts. That was my big year, too, when I could really bring it. He loved it."
Just one comment: The author of the article refers to us gringos as "subjects of Bush." Uh, no, that's Britain where people are subjects of the Crown. In the US we're citizens of a republic. That's sort of a basic difference there.
Tom is absolutely right about "British subjects"; they legally became British citizens in 1983. That's what I get for listening to Murph without checking it myself.
The numbers on the most-viewed sporting events seemed off to me, too, so I checked them, and there are apparently two widely disparate ways of calculating viewership. With one of them you get very conservative figures like the ones above, and with the other one you get several billion people watching the World Cup final.
Here are the 2004 figures, for a comparison:
1. Football: Euro 2004 final Portugal v Greece 153 million
2. Olympic Games: opening ceremony 127 million
3. Olympic Games: closing ceremony 96 million
4. American football: Super Bowl 95 million
5. Olympic Games: men's 100m metres 87 million
6. Olympic Games: men's 200m freestyle swimming 66 million
7. Formula one: Monaco grand prix 59 million
8. Football: Champions League final Porto v Monaco 56 million
9. Basketball: NBA finals 25 million
10.= Tennis: Wimbledon women's singles final 21 million
10.= Tennis: Wimbledon men's singles final 21 million
12. Cycling: Tour de France final stage 16 million
13.= Football: FA Cup final Millwall v Man Utd 9 million
13.= Horseracing: Grand National 9 million
15. Rowing: University Boat Race 5 million