Most Popular Sports in America by Viewers

The most popular sports in america by viewers are football and basketball, with baseball being a close third. Football boasts the highest average viewership of any sport in america, with super bowl sunday being the most-watched television event each year.

Basketball comes in as a close second with the nba finals being a highly-anticipated event for sports fans. Baseball, also known as america’s pastime, has been a beloved sport for over a century, with the annual world series drawing in millions of viewers.

Other popular sports in america include soccer, hockey, and tennis. These sports have experienced a surge in popularity in recent years due to the success of their respective leagues and the rise of star athletes. In this article, we will explore the most popular sports in america and what makes them so appealing to viewers.

Most Popular Sports in America by Viewers


Table of Contents

Definition Of Most Popular Sports In America By Viewers

Explanation Of How Popularity Is Determined

The popularity of sports in america is primarily determined by viewership. Viewing statistics indicate how often a particular sport is watched on tv. Platforms such as social media, streaming services, and online channels also contribute to determining the popularity of a sport.

The criteria used to gauge the sport’s popularity include:

  • Number of viewers: This is the most important factor in assessing the sport’s popularity. Sports with the highest number of viewers are more likely to be considered the most popular.
  • Consistency of viewership: A sport with consistently high viewership over a long period is more likely to be considered popular.
  • Demographics: A sport that appeals to a broad audience is considered more popular than a sport that is only popular among a specific demographic.

Importance Of Viewership In Determining Popularity

The role of viewership in determining the popularity of sports in america cannot be overstated. Here are some reasons why:

  • Revenue: Sports with high viewership generate more advertising revenue, as advertisers target a larger audience. This means that sports with lower viewership generate less revenue, and therefore, less popular.
  • Sponsorship: A sport’s viewership statistics are an important factor for its sponsorship deals. This is because a sport with higher viewership indicates a more significant audience, which increases the chances of attracting more significant sponsorships.
  • Fan engagement: High viewership is also indicative of the fan engagement and interest in a particular sport. This engagement will translate to greater revenue and sponsorship deals for the sport.

Viewership plays a massive role in determining the most popular sports in america. The higher the viewership, the more popular the sport, which translates to increased revenue, sponsorships, and fan engagement.

Football (Nfl)

History And Background Of Nfl

National football league, or nfl, is a professional american football organization that was formed back in 1920. The league was initially called the american professional football association (apfa), but in 1922, it changed its name to the national football league (nfl).

Here are some key points to know about the history and background of nfl:

  • The league started with just 10 teams, but over the years, it has grown to comprise 32 teams.
  • Nfl was created as a means to bring together various regional leagues and teams to create a national professional league.
  • The first-ever super bowl game was held in 1967.

Popularity Of Super Bowl

Super bowl has become synonymous with american culture, and millions of people across the world tune in to watch this major event each year. Here are some key points to know about the popularity of super bowl:

  • It is the most-watched television event in the united states.
  • The super bowl is known for its lavish halftime shows, featuring some of the biggest names in music and entertainment.
  • Super bowl ads have become some of the most expensive and highly anticipated commercials of the year.

Annual Viewership Statistics

The nfl has a massive fan base, and it consistently draws in high viewership numbers each year. Here are some key points to know about the annual viewership statistics of nfl:

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  • In 2020, the regular season games averaged 15.4 million viewers per game.
  • The super bowl is the most-watched television event in the united states, with an average of 102 million viewers in recent years.
  • The nfl’s popularity extends beyond the united states, with fans tuning in from all over the world.

Reasons For Its Popularity

The nfl’s popularity can be attributed to various factors, both on and off the field. Here are some key points to know about the reasons for its popularity:

  • The sport of football has a rich culture and history in the united states, making it a staple of american sports culture.
  • The nfl effectively draws in fans with its exciting gameplay and high-stakes matches.
  • The league has also become known for its highly publicized offseason events, such as the nfl draft and free agency period, which allow fans to stay engaged even when games are not being played.

Changes In Nfl Viewership Over The Years

The nfl has seen some changes in its viewership numbers over the years, with some seasons showing more growth than others. Here are some key points to know about the changes in nfl viewership over the years:

  • The nfl has consistently maintained a large viewership base, but it has seen some fluctuations in numbers in recent years.
  • The 2016 and 2017 seasons saw a small dip in viewership, but the numbers have since stabilized.
  • The covid-19 pandemic in 2020 led to a unique season, with games being played in empty stadiums and viewership numbers being impacted. However, the nfl still maintained strong viewership numbers overall.

Basketball (Nba)

History And Background Of Nba

The national basketball association (nba) is a men’s professional basketball league in north america. It was founded in 1946. Here are some key points about the history and background of nba:

  • Nba was initially called the basketball association of america (baa).
  • It merged with the national basketball league (nbl) in 1949 to become the nba.
  • Only 11 teams were part of the nba at its inception.
  • Nba has grown significantly over the years to become one of the most watched sports in america today.

Popularity Of Nba Finals

The nba finals is the championship series of the nba. It is held annually in june and attracts a lot of viewers. Here are some key points about the popularity of nba finals:

  • The nba finals is the most watched basketball event in the world.
  • It is the culmination of the nba playoffs, in which the top eight teams from the eastern and western conferences compete for a chance to play in the finals.
  • The nba finals is a best-of-seven series, with the first team to win four games being declared the winner.
  • The finals usually generates a lot of buzz and excitement among basketball fans.

Annual Viewership Statistics

The nba is one of the most watched sports in america, attracting millions of viewers annually. Here are some key statistics about annual nba viewership:

  • In the 2019-2020 season, the nba averaged 1.3 million viewers per game.
  • The nba finals in 2020 had an average of 7.5 million viewers.
  • The 2019-2020 nba season was watched by a total of 3.7 billion viewers globally.
  • Nba viewership varies season to season, depending on factors such as players, teams, and events.

Reasons For Its Popularity

The nba has gained immense popularity over the years, both in america and globally. Here are some reasons for its popularity:

  • Nba players are some of the most skilled and talented athletes in the world, making games exciting to watch.
  • The league has a diverse mix of players from different cultural backgrounds, adding to its appeal and bringing about fresh storylines.
  • Collaboration with reputed broadcasting networks has given the nba a wider reach to fans globally, making it more accessible.
  • The nba has integrated technology through apps, on-demand video, and social platforms to engage fans with the sport.

Changes In Nba Viewership Over The Years

The nba has been a major sports league in america for over 70 years now. Its viewership has seen some changes in trends over the years. Here are some key changes in nba viewership over the years:

  • The nba saw a significant drop in viewership during the 1998-1999 lockout season when only 50 games were played, as opposed to the usual 82 games per season.
  • The nba experienced a slight dip in viewership in the years following michael jordan’s retirement in 1998, as he was one of the league’s biggest draws.
  • The nba has seen a steady increase in viewership over the years, thanks to the league’s effort to market its players and collaborations with different mediums.

Baseball (Mlb)

History And Background Of Mlb

  • Baseball, also known as the national pastime, has a rich history in america dating back to the 19th century.
  • In 1903, major league baseball (mlb) was formed when the american league and the national league merged, creating the modern professional baseball league.
  • There are currently 30 teams in mlb, 15 in each league, with a total of 162 games per team during the regular season.

Popularity Of World Series

  • The world series is the championship series of mlb, played between the winners of the american league and the national league.
  • The first world series was played in 1903, with the boston red sox defeating the pittsburgh pirates.
  • The world series is one of the most-watched sporting events in america. It draws in huge crowds and generates massive revenue for the teams.
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Annual Viewership Statistics

  • Approximately 36 million viewers watched the 2020 world series, a significant decrease from the 2019 viewership.
  • The 2019 world series had an average viewership of around 14 million people, and the 2020 world series only garnered an average of 10.2 million.
  • However, despite the decrease in viewership, mlb remains one of the top sporting events in america, with a loyal fan base.

Reasons For Its Popularity

  • Mlb’s popularity can be attributed to its deep-rooted history in american culture, involving iconic players, teams, and moments.
  • Baseball is also a sport that allows fans to connect with the players and their favorite teams on a personal level.
  • The sport has evolved to include new technology and advanced analytics, which further enhances the fan experience.

Changes In Mlb Viewership Over The Years

  • In recent years, mlb’s viewership has seen a dip, especially among younger viewers who have more entertainment options.
  • However, the league has made efforts to improve its accessibility and reach, including partnerships with social media platforms and improving the streaming options for fans.
  • As a result, mlb is still one of the most popular sports in america, with a growing fan base and exciting prospects for the future.

Soccer (Mls)

Soccer, also known as football, is one of the most popular sports worldwide. In the united states, major league soccer (mls) has been gaining traction and popularity among viewers. Below are some of the key aspects of mls that have contributed to its increasing popularity.

History And Background Of Mls

  • Mls was founded in 1993, and the first season took place in 1996.
  • Initially, there were only ten teams, but the league has now expanded to 30 teams.
  • Mls was created to help foster the growth of soccer in the united states, and it continues to strive towards developing the sport.

Popularity Of Mls Cup

  • The mls cup is the championship game for the league and is held annually.
  • The first mls cup was played in 1996, and since then, it has become a highly anticipated event for soccer fans.
  • The mls cup attracts a lot of attention from viewers and helps to showcase the best teams in the league.

Annual Viewership Statistics

  • Mls has experienced growth in viewership over the years, with an average of 246,000 viewers per game in 2020.
  • The mls cup finals have had an average viewership of around two million people in recent years.
  • The league has also seen an increase in viewership among younger age groups, indicating that the sport is gaining popularity among younger generations.

Reasons For Its Popularity

  • One of the key factors in the growth of mls is the increased popularity of soccer worldwide.
  • The league has also made significant efforts to market itself and make soccer more accessible to american audiences.
  • Mls has taken strides to incorporate new technology into the sport, making it more interactive for viewers and creating a more engaging experience for fans.

Changes In Mls Viewership Over The Years

  • The league has experienced ups and downs in viewership over the years, but it has generally seen a positive trend.
  • The covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on sports as a whole, and mls was no exception. The league saw a decline in viewership during the 2020 season, but it is expected to rebound in the upcoming seasons.

Overall, mls has come a long way since its inception in 1996. The league has grown significantly, and it continues to attract more viewers each year. With its unique style of play and emphasis on technology, mls is well-positioned to continue its growth and popularity in the united states.

Ice Hockey (Nhl)

Most Popular Sports In America By Viewers: Ice Hockey (Nhl)

Ice hockey, known in the united states as nhl (national hockey league), is one of the top sports in america enjoyed by millions of viewers across the country. This exciting sport has a fantastic history and has earned immense popularity in american culture.

In this section, we’ll explore the history, popularity, annual viewership, changing trends, and the reasons for the sport’s popularity.

History And Background Of Nhl

The nhl was established in 1917 in montreal, canada, then crossed over to the us, growing to become one of america’s biggest sports, with 31 teams in 24 us markets and seven in canada. Here are key points outlining the history and background of nhl:

  • Founded as a replacement for national hockey association (nha)
  • Original six teams: Montreal canadiens, toronto maple leafs, detroit red wings, boston bruins, chicago blackhawks, and new york rangers
  • The stanley cup, the oldest trophy in north american sports, was awarded to the nhl winner.

Popularity Of Stanley Cup

The stanley cup is the ultimate trophy in the nhl and the most important reason ice hockey (nhl) has become so popular in the united states. Its popularity drives millions of viewers to watch ice hockey games every season. Here are key points outlining the popularity of the stanley cup:

  • The stanley cup represents the ultimate achievement for nhl teams.
  • Each team needs to win multiple playoff rounds to claim the cup, making it a challenging competition.
  • The stanley cup is the oldest professional trophy in the world, dating back to 1893.

Annual Viewership Statistics

Ice hockey is among the nation’s most-watched sports, with a vast audience that increases every year. The statistics reflect the steady rise in popularity of the nhl.

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  • According to recent surveys, the nhl has secured the fifth position in terms of viewership, with annual revenue of $5.1 billion.
  • The nbc network broadcasted around ninety-eight nhl games during the 2019-20 season, with the average number of viewers increasing.
  • In 2018, over 25 million people tuned in to watch the stanley cup playoffs.

Reasons For Its Popularity

The nhl is one of the most entertaining and captivating sports in america, and its popularity goes beyond the love for ice hockey. Here are a few reasons that explain the sport’s popularity:

  • The speed, skill, and high scoring nature of the game attracts young sports fans.
  • Players’ toughness and dedication to the game are highly regarded.
  • Anyone can play ice hockey, regardless of their background, adding to the sport’s diversity.

Changes In Nhl Viewership Over The Years

Over the years, changes in nhl viewership have occurred. The following are the major changing trends in nhl viewership:

  • With digital streaming services, it’s now easier to access nhl games, creating a broader audience across the world.
  • The covid-19 pandemic forced significant changes to the nhl shows and scheduling.

The nhl is a fascinating sport with a great history, enormous popularity, and impressive viewership. The stanley cup, coupled with the game’s thrill, speed, and the players’ determination, contributes to its continued growth over time.

Other Popular Sports In America By Viewers

While football, basketball, and baseball dominate the sports scene in america, there are many other sports that also have a considerable following. Some of these include:

Golf (Pga)

Golf has been around for centuries, and it remains one of the most popular sports in america. Professional golfers compete in a number of high-profile tournaments throughout the year, including the masters, the u. s. open, the british open, and the pga championship.

Some key points about golf include:

  • Golf requires a high level of precision, patience, and skill.
  • The sport is popular among both men and women, and it has a large following of both players and fans.
  • Golf is great for networking, as many business deals are made on the course.

Tennis (Atp/Wta)

Tennis is another popular sport in america that attracts fans from all over the world. The sport has been around for centuries, and it is known for its fast-paced action and intense competition. Some key points about tennis include:

  • Tennis requires a great deal of physical ability, as players must be able to move quickly and change direction on a dime.
  • The sport is played by both men and women, and there are a number of high-profile tournaments throughout the year, including the u.s. open, the australian open, and wimbledon.
  • Tennis is great for improving hand-eye coordination and overall fitness.

Boxing (Ppv)

Boxing is a combat sport that has been popular in america for decades. It involves two fighters who go toe-to-toe in the ring, with the goal of knocking each other out. The sport has a large following of fans who enjoy the intense action and drama.

Some key points about boxing include:

  • Boxing requires a great deal of physical strength and endurance, as well as mental toughness.
  • Professional boxers compete in a number of high-profile fights throughout the year, including pay-per-view events like mayweather vs. pacquiao and tyson fury vs. deontay wilder.
  • Boxing is great for improving overall fitness and self-defense skills.

Motorsports (Nascar/Indycar/F1)

Motorsports is a broad term that refers to a number of different types of racing. Some of the most popular motorsports in america include nascar, indycar, and formula 1. These sports have a large following of fans who love the high-speed action and competitive nature of the races.

Some key points about motorsports include:

  • Motorsports require a great deal of physical and mental skill, as drivers must be able to make split-second decisions at high speeds.
  • The sport is great for improving hand-eye coordination and overall fitness.
  • Motorsports are often associated with high-profile endorsement deals and lucrative contracts.

Olympics (Summer And Winter)

The olympics are one of the most popular sporting events in the world, and they attract athletes from all over the globe. The summer and winter olympics are both held every four years, and they feature a wide variety of sports, from track and field to skiing and snowboarding.

Some key points about the olympics include:

  • Olympic athletes are some of the most skilled and dedicated athletes in the world, and they must train tirelessly to compete at the highest level.
  • The olympics are a multicultural event that celebrate athletic achievement and bring people together from all over the world.
  • The summer and winter olympics are great for improving overall fitness and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

While football, basketball, and baseball are the most popular sports in america, there are many other sports that also have a large following. From golf to motorsports, each of these sports offers something unique and exciting for fans to enjoy.

As such, it’s no surprise that many americans love to watch and participate in a wide variety of different sports throughout the year.

[FAQs] Frequently Asked Questions On Most Popular Sports In America By Viewers

What Is The Most Popular Sport In America By Viewership?

Nfl football is the most-watched and beloved sport in america. The super bowl ranks among the most-watched television events worldwide. Second to football is mlb baseball.

What Is The Average Number Of Americans Who Watch A Sports Event?

Over 100 million americans watch sports events, and the number is rising, thanks to cable television driving espn. The most-watched sports events include the superbowl, world series, and nba finals.

What Are The Top Five Most Popular Individual Sports In America?

Individual sports like golf, auto racing, and tennis, rank behind nfl football, baseball, and basketball.

How Has The Covid-19 Pandemic Affected Sports Viewership In America?

The pandemic has caused sports venues to close, thereby causing plummeting attendance and affecting sports broadcasting across america. Venue capacity restrictions are regularly re-evaluated while sport is still played in empty stadia.


The sports culture in america is thriving with incredible fan-following for many sports. This article investigated the most popular sports in america by viewers and it is clear that the top sports are football, basketball, baseball, hockey, and soccer. These sports bring people together to enjoy fierce competition and exciting moments, either as spectators or as athletes.

As sports evolve, the viewership of these sports continues to grow and exceed expectations. The future of sports and the upcoming generation of fans can contribute to the popularity of niche sports, but the big five sports mentioned have a strong foundation and are not likely to lose their popularity in the near future.

Sports have the power to unify people and bring communities together, and it’s no surprise that these sports continue to dominate the charts year after year. Let’s celebrate and appreciate these sports for their impact on america’s culture, and stay tuned for exciting developments in the world of sports.

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