Back to news May 15, 2023

Sports popularity ranking for 2022

Here is an interesting global sports statistic for the year 2022 regarding their popularity in various countries, percentages and market worth.
Sports popularity ranking for 2022

Even if your own tastes lie elsewhere or your own market is local or even hyperlocal, having an idea of the most popular sports with the largest global fanbases is fascinating; there's just something satisfying about crunching the Premier League soccer (EPL) dollar revenue numbers when your consumer base consists of - say - diehard college sports enthusiasts.

That said, if soccer watching and the big money betting is chiefly concentrated in a few of the biggest and highest profile leagues located in Europe and the Americas (although to a lesser extent), what do these numbers tell us about the state of the game at other levels? FIFA declared a total viewership of 1.12 billion for the 2019 Women's World Cup. Additionally, more than four and a half million US women joined sports betting apps in 2021 (according to Global Wireless Solutions), an increase of 115% on 2020 - and representing a faster growth rate than male users. These stats are not apparent from the figures below - but having that knowledge could make a real difference in where you take your brand next.

Most popular sports in the world's most highly populated countries (2022 estimates):

  1. China - basketball* 1,448,471,400
  2. India - cricket 1,06,631,776
  3. United States - American football 334,805,269
  4. Indonesia - soccer 279,134,505
  5. Pakistan - cricket 229,448,994
  6. Nigeria - soccer 216,746,934
  7. Brazil - soccer 215,353,593
  8. Bangladesh - cricket 167,885,689
  9. Russia - soccer 145,805,947
  10. Mexico - soccer 131,562,772

Source: Babbel
NB: it's difficult to say with true certainty which sport in China is the most popular - table tennis, badminton and soccer all enjoy significant popularity there too.

Market worth of the sports betting and lottery sector worldwide from 2019 to 2021, with 2022 forecast (value in USD billions):

2022* 231.33

2021 194.63

2020 172.89

2019 220.56

Source: Statista

According to Statista, 2020 saw a more than 21% decline in the market size of sports betting from 2019's 220 billion, while 2021 saw 12.57% growth on the 2020 figure but no return to pre-pandemic levels. The predictions for 2022 showed a return to those levels - no doubt a figure that will have been helped in no small part by the 2022 Soccer World Cup held in Qatar with its cited 5 billion viewership.

Sportradar Integrity Services’ Global Betting Turnover Model estimates overall turnover in 2021 sports betting worldwide at EUR 1.45 trillion. According to Sportradar, worldwide, soccer is the most popular sport to bet on, accounting for just over half of all betting transactions (both legal and illegal) at 51% in 2021. This was worth EUR 745 billion.

The next most popular sports were (in EUR billions): tennis EUR 190, basketball EUR 185, cricket at EUR 68, American football at EUR 58. Perhaps surprisingly, esports (traditional games, excl. efootball and ebasketball) came in fifth at EUR 46, ahead of EUR 44, 32 and 20 for table tennis, baseball and ice hockey respectively. Those numbers are borne out if you cross-reference the most popular sports in the world’s most populous nations.

Overall Global Betting Turnover (in EUR billions):

Soccer 745 Tennis 190 Basketball 185 Cricket 68 American football 58 Esports 46 Table tennis 44 Baseball 32 Ice hockey 20

Source: Sportradar Integrity Services' BETTING CORRUPTION AND MATCH-FIXING IN 2021

Top Sports Leagues (by average match turnover, EUR millions):

  1. NBA - 74
  2. Serie A (Italy) - 100
  3. Bundesliga (Germany) - 105
  4. La Liga (Spain) - 110
  5. NFL - 147
  6. Indian Premier League (India, cricket) - 163
  7. English Premier League (England)
  8. UEFA Champions League

Source: Sportradar Integrity Services' BETTING CORRUPTION AND MATCH-FIXING IN 2021

Every year, millions of people enjoy their preferred sport(s) locally and globally, which naturally leads to an inclination for betting. By this logic, bookmakers are the establishments which hold the most accurate statistics for people’s sports gambling behaviours. If you wish to create such an establishment of your own, Gamingtec offers sports betting software solutions as part of our suite of products.

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