1. Tour De France – 3.5 Billion Viewers
The showpiece event of cycling, the Tour de France, takes place every summer throughout France. Lasting 23 days, it is one of the most gruelling challenges in all of sport, with serious injuries often sustained by riders. The course winds its way through France's scenic mountain roads, testing endurance, speed and mental resolve, the riders racing in teams of 8 members who work together to achieve the fastest accumulative time. The Tour de France has a rich heritage, dating back to 1903, and cycling's most preeminent competition now draws in an astonishing 3.5 billion viewers worldwide.
2. FIFA World Cup – 3.3 Billion Viewers
Unsurprisingly, next on the list is football's showpiece event, the FIFA World Cup. Held every 4 years, the tournament features 32 qualifying nations from around the world, who are drawn into 4-team groups, the top two of each group progressing to the knockout stages. What makes the World Cup such a big deal is its global appeal - football (or soccer, depending on where you're from) is the most popular sport in the world and is on the rise. Traditionally weaker footballing nations like China and the USA have started to invest more in the sport, which is typically dominated by teams from Europe and South America. The World Cup holds the record for attendance at a sporting event in an enclosed stadium when 199,854 fans crammed inside Rio's Estadio do Maracana to watched Uruguay beat Brazil, 2-1. In terms of TV figures, the last tournament in 2018 saw 3.3 billion viewers tune in to watch the drama unfold.
3. Cricket World Cup – 2.6 Billion Viewers
This might raise a few eyebrows with North American readers, but next on the list of the world's most-watched sporting events is the Cricket World Cup. Although virtually unheard of in the States, cricket is something akin to religion for many in countries around the world, especially India, Pakistan and Australia. The contest features 10 nations, played over 6 weeks, and the format is One Daty cricket as opposed to the more traditional Test cricket which can last for five days. The last Cricket World Cup - held in England and Wales - set a record for worldwide TV viewership of the sport, a seismic 2.6 billion fans tuning in across the tournament.
4. Olympic Games – 2 Billion Viewers
As you might expect, the Olympic Games are one of the world's most-watched sporting events. Like the FIFA World Cup, the Summer Games are held just once every four years, making the event all the more memorable. The Games feature a dizzying array of sports, and a vast number of nations are represented, giving the feeling of a festival as much as a sporting competition. The ultimate platform for elite athletes to demonstrate the very peak in human physical ability, the Olympics draws in an average of 2 billion viewers every time.