The most recent FIFA World Cup in Qatar produced an outstanding spectacle, with the thrilling final between France and Argentina drawing a record-breaking audience of nearly 26 million people in the US alone.
The final also drew peak audiences of 20 million and 29.4 million in the UK and France, respectively, meaning that well over one billion people watched the showpiece match across the globe.
But how does the FIFA World Cup and its final compare with other major global tournaments? Let’s get into it!
The Rugby World Cup
According to FIFA, an incredible 3.5 billion people watched the official broadcast coverage of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with this representing consistent viewership at all stages of the tournament.
The tournament certainly compares favourably to the Rugby World Cup in this respect, with the 2019 iteration of the tournament being watched by a cumulative global audience of 857 million people.
This included a total of 12.8 million Brits who watched live coverage of the final between South Africa and England, while overall viewership for the tournament in Japan set a new standard for the RWC brand.
While the Rugby World Cup 2023 in France is set to break all records associated with TV viewership and in-person attendance, it has a long way to go before it can challenge the global popularity and reach of its FIFA alternative.
As a result, many will still use the Seat-Compare.com site, which is a live search engine for ticket prices for all major competitions including the Rugby and Football World Cup in order to obtain the best seats in the house!
The Cricket World Cup
Cricket has been played in the UK for centuries, with more than 250,000 people actively playing the sport on these shores.
It’s also considered to be a national sport in India and other parts of the sub-continent, while it remains genuinely popular in Southern Hemisphere nations like South Africa and Australia.
The pinnacle of this sport is the Cricket World Cup, with the 2019 iteration setting new viewership records of 2.6 billion in total. This is considerably higher than the 2019 Rugby World Cup (cricket has a much broader global reach than rugby), while it’s not that far behind the figures recorded by the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups.
While 8.87 million Brits watched the final of this tournament, however, this was considerably lower than the 2022 FIFA World Cup final despite the fact that England qualified for the 2019 Cricket WC showpiece.
The Super Bowl
In general terms, FIFA World Cup viewership dwarfs that of American Football, but this is no surprise given the global nature of the former tournament.
In this regard, it’s much fairer to compare the World Cup final with the Super Bowl, with the latter being the culmination of the AFL and NFL American Football seasons and considered by many to be the world’s single biggest sporting event.
However, even the most popular Super Bowl in 2015 (between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks) only drew an average audience of 114.4 million people in the US, and a maximum of 50 million more globally.
Conversely, 1.12 billion tuned in to see the 2018 FIFA World Cup final between France and Croatia, with 516.6 million of this number watching at least 20 consecutive minutes.
So, it cannot hold a candle to the FIFA World Cup final in this respect, despite its incredible popularity stateside.