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Football Viewing Figures

As a football, you may wonder how many people actually watch football games on average. What is the most followed football league? Or just what the football viewing figures are in general? In this article, you will read these and many more such as the growth of women’s football when it comes to the number of spectators. 

This article comes at a time when the BBC for the first time in 20 years revealed its viewing rating figures on a football match  Bournemouth vs Crystal Palace which ended with a victory by 2-0 for the latter. 

At its peak, the game was watched by 3.9 million people (24% per cent shared viewing), but average viewership was slightly lower at 3.6 million (22 per cent share) across the full 90 minutes.

Just this year 2020, BBC decided to reveal for the first time in 20 years its viewing rating figures on a football matc

The Premier League viewership figures have grown over the past two decades partly thanks to its increasing popularity in Asian Pacific countries such as Thailand.

Manchester City vs Arsenal games viewership peaked at 3.4 million spectators on Sky Sports. 

Football viewing figures

  1. 2018 FIFA World Cup final was watched by 1.1 billion people around the world, becoming the most-watched competition in the globe. 
  2. The 2018 World Cup was watched by 3.572 billion people, according to FIFA
  3. The average live audience per game in 2018 World Cup was 191 million.
  4. El Clasico is broadcast to around 650 million worldwide with an estimated audience of 75 million viewers. 
  5. An average of 180 million watches the Champions League final each year.
  6. Manchester United drew an average of 74,000 people per game during 2018-2019. It is followed by Arsenal with an estimated 59,000 fans per game and West Ham with 58,000
  7. Premier League global audience rose to 3.2bn for 2018/19 season
  8. An average of 1.5 million people turned their TVs on to watch a Premier League game during the 2018/2019 season.
  9. The most-watched match ever in the Premier League was Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United on the 30th of April in 2012 with 4.04 million viewers.
  10. 82.17 million watched the Women’s World Cup final in 2019.
  11. The Premier League was shown in a total of 188 of the world’s 193 countries recognised by the United Nations.
  12. Premier League reached 1.03 billion homes around the world last season.

How many people watch football

El Clasico (for those ones who are not familiar with football jargon, it is the derby between Barcelona and Real Madrid) is the most broadcast football game around the world (excluding major national team competitions) as it is intended to reach 650 million people across 185 countries.

Although it is extremely difficult to estimate how many people actually watched the game due to the fact that some channels do not share their viewership figures, the closest figures conclude that between 50 to 100 million people watch each El Clasico match around the world. 

Football World Cup viewing figures 

FIFA World Cup viewing figures have shown steady growth during the last four tournaments. The interest in the competitions has aroused increasing an average of 10% on each tournament and it has become the most popular competition in the world followed by the Olympics. 

2018 FIFA World Cup final was watched by 1.1 billion people around the world, becoming the most-watched competition in the globe.

The FIFA World Cup has become a global phenomenon with astronomical viewing figures in line with the top most-watched sporting events such as the cricket World Cup final, NBA the Finals or the Super Bowl. 

The 2018 World Cup was watched by 3.572 billion people, according to FIFA. And the final was viewed by 1.12 billion.

What is the biggest game on Earth?

Some might wonder what sport is the most followed or watched around the world. Every fan probably believes their favourite sport is the biggest one. But what do figures say?

According to Hover Met Complex, the top most-watched sporting competitions are the Olympic Games of 2008 in Beijing, 2018 FIFA World Cup and Tour de France (2018).

  1. 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games – 4.7 Billion Viewers.
  2. 2018 FIFA World Cup – 3.6 Billion Viewers. 
  3. 2018 Tour de France – 3.5 Billion Viewers. 
  4. 2015 Cricket World Cup – 2.2 Billion Viewers. 
  5. 2015 Rugby World Cup – 1 Billion Viewers. 

For it might be surprising to see Tour de France in the top three positions but it seems to enjoy increasing popularity.

When it comes to a single game competition, the FIFA World Cup is by far the most watch sporting game. In 2018, 1.14 billion people watch Germany defeat Argentina while the Super Bowl managed to draw an estimate 160 million viewers.


Premier League viewing figures

Top-flight Premier League viewing figures are increasing a 21 per cent year-on-year, according to Sky Sports

Premier League is trending up and its audience has been growing steadily over the last few years. A total cumulative audience of 1.35 billion watched live the Premier League around the world.

Please note that the figures only account for standard in-home broadcast viewing and exclude out-of-home and mobile consumption.

Top most-watched Premier League games: 

  1. Manchester City vs Manchester United, 30 April 2012 (4.04million)
  2. Arsenal vs Manchester United, 16 April 2003 (3.43million)
  3. Liverpool vs Manchester City, 10 November 2019 (3.35million)
  4. Manchester United vs Liverpool, 20 October 2019 (3.28million)
  5. Chelsea vs Manchester United, 5 February 2012 (3.26million)

You might wonder what football games in the history of the Premier League were watched the most. Well, as the list shows what football games have been watched the most. 

It clearly states what football teams are more popular among fans: Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool appeared 8 times.

Premier League coverage broadcast around the world last season, reached 1.03 billion homes.

Which teams in the Premier League drew the largest audience during the season 2018-2019. Manchester United might not enjoy as many success as they did a few years ago being eclipsed by Liverpool’s championship titles. However Man United is still the team who gathers the largest amount of fan at the Old Trafford. 

Audiences are limited to the number of seat available at its home stadium and factors such as local population do have an impact on the number of people attending a football game. 

Manchester United drew an average of 74,000 people per game during 2018-2019. It is followed by Arsenal with an estimated 59,000 fans per game and West Ham with 58,000

Either way, Manchester United seems to have a large fan base as it managed to bring an average of 74,000 people per game followed by Arsenal with an estimated 59,000 fans per game. A nearly 16% difference is clearly a significant advantage.

For being a relatively new as a professional and legally organized association, women’s football has grown notable over the last few decades drawing a lot of attention. 

Although most popular in the United States, women’s football proved during the last world cup to become a worldwide sensation. As it managed to attract over 82 million spectators during the WWC final – more people than El Clasico. 

82.17 million watchedthe Women’s World Cup final.

Men’s World Cup vs. Women’s World Cup Viewership By The Numbers

2019 Women’s World Cup was extremely popular and really made an impact on how women’s football is considered. The WWC final was watched by over 82 million people surpassing el Clasico and Oscar’s Ceremony.  

World CupAverage audienceFinal viewershipAverage audience
2018 Men’s3.572 billion1.12 billion191 million
2019 Women’s3.572 billion82.17 million17.27 million

According to Fifa’s report – which looked at viewing across all platforms – there were 993.5 million watching on TV alone and 481.5 million accessed the coverage on digital platforms.

Football viewing interest by country

The interest in football has increased notable over the last two decades thanks partly the extended broadcast channels that now manage to cover almost every corner around the globe. 

According to Niesen Sports, the United Arab Emirates are the country whose population is more interested in football with an astounding 80% of the country admitting to being attracted by any football competition. 

As a football fan, I would probably identify Brazil and Argentina – perhaps Spain, as the most passionate football fans and those ones who are more interested in the sport.

However, the list above shows us something a bit more surprising. Thailand and Chile are among the top three countries in the world that are more interested in football. Here in the United Kingdom, only 50% of the population admit being interested in the sport. 

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  1. Great article.
    I am looking for an estimate of global viewers for the PL resumption week, which began on 17 June (I believe it was matchweek 30)
    Have been unsuccessful in reaching the PL.
    If you know, I would appreciate you’re sending it to me. If not, are there any figures from which a reasonable extrapolation could be made?
    Am writing an article on BLM in the PL.
    Thanks for your help.