(Last Updated On: January 9, 2020)
Just like the rest of the world, American citizens are big fans of sports. However, the most popular sports in the country is quite different from what’s popular in the rest of the continent. Here are the top 10 most watched.
1. American Football (NFL)
The National Football League is the most popular sport in the United States. Its viewership grew by 5% to it 16.5 million per game and was able to finish with more than 180 million in total views by the end of the 2019 regular season. NBC Sports Group was able to record an average viewership for the Sunday Night Football package of 20.5 million which is the highest since 2015. The Super Bowl was able to attract a total of 100.7 million viewers on all platforms cementing its position as one of the most viewed sporting event in the United States.
The MLB season is able to attract a combined attendance of 110 million fans across Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball. According to Nielsen, the World Series average 13.9 million viewers nationally earning it a 16% market share nationally. The World Series remains the No 1 non NFL program on television and Game 7 was the sixth most watched network television show since the NFL opened its season.
The sport is mainly aired on ESPN, TNT and NBA TV. TNT averages 1.3 million viewers through 14 telecasts, ESPN averages 1.5 million viewers while NBA TV gets 320,000 viewers per game. NBA game attendance average between 600,000 – 840,000 per team for a single season and a season total of 22 million people. The 76ers lead all teams with an average of 20,413 fans at Wells Fargo Center.
National Hockey League (NHL) games on NBC averaged 352,000 viewers per game as per the 2019 season and it averaged 313,000 viewers in the 2018/2019 season. Game attendance averaged a season total of between 510,000 – 932,000 people which breaks down to an average 12,000 – 22,000 people per game. The Chicago Blackhawks attracted the highest attendance while the New York Islanders got the lowest.
Soccer may be one of the most popular sports in the world, it isn’t widely watched in the United States, however, viewership has been on the rise in the last couple of years. In the last 6 seasons airing the Premier League, NBC Sports has reached an average of 36 million viewers per season. This is an average of 457,000 viewers per match, Washington, D.C., was the highest-rated market for games on NBC and NBCSN.
The US Open finals is the most popular event when it comes to tennis games. US Open women’s finals averaged 3.72 million viewers, making it the most watched match at the tournament since 2015 event between Serena and Venus Williams. The men’s finals in 2019 averaged 2.75 million viewers while in 2018 it was 2.07 million. The complete US Open averaged 1.28 million viewers across ESPN and ESPN2 in 2019 which is up from 1.04 million.
In the 2018 season, NBC Sports had the highest viewership for a PGA Tour after viewership hit an average of 3.6 million people tuning in. Viewership peaked at 10.84 million viewers when Tiger Woods claimed his first tour title in five years. FOX Sports averaged 3.67 million viewers across all four rounds and overall 31.7 million people tuned for the 2019 US Open.
WWE RAW drew a total of 125.746 million viewers in 2019, averaging 2.418 million viewers per episode on the USA Network. This is drop from the total viewership of 149.6 million in 2018 and an average viewership of 2.8 million. Viewership has been consistently dropping over the last 5 years where it was at 4.1 million on average.
Nascar is the dominant player when it comes to motorsport viewership in the United States. The Nascar Cup Series averages 2.918 million viewers per race on NBC and FOX network. Daytona 500 was able to attract the highest viewership of 9.17 million viewers which is more than double of all the races apart from Atlanta Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway which both have 5 million viewers. ESPN airs Formula 1 in the US and it was able to register an average of 671,000 viewers across the 21 race season.
PBC Fight Night on FOX was able to draw 1.4 million viewers on Fox, Fox Deportes and Fox Sports streaming services on average for the year 2019 and this is higher than the 1.25 million recorded in 2018.