Over 400 million spectators attend selected major annual events in 2014
The Global Sports Impact Report 2015 focuses on 77 major world championships and multi-sport games held in 2014, which were attended by over 14 million spectators, according to research by Sportcal.
Further research shows that in excess of 400 million spectators attended a selected list of 50 major annual leagues, tours and events, further highlighting the size and scale of impact that sport delivers globally every year.
These annual regular leagues, tours, series and major tournaments are the backbone of the sports events industry. Most of these are professional events but to show the breadth of sports impact we also included some college and minor league attendance data from the USA in the list of 50 events.
A total of 408,268,028 spectators attended these 50 major annual events in 2014, as the table below shows
The North American sports dominate the numbers with over 50 per cent of the attendance in our selected sports coming from the continent’s leagues. Baseball itself contributed nearly half of the total attendance of 227,966,001 for North American events.
NCAA National College Football ranks second highest with over 49 million spectators attending a match in 2014 showing the high level of interest in college sports in the USA.
According to the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), attendance for professional baseball in 2014 exceeded 150 million, with Major League Baseball accounting for close to 74 million. If Minor League Baseball is included in this analysis, the figure is likely to be nearer 200 million. The four selected baseball leagues from the USA, Japan and Korea together attracted over 140 million spectators.
The 15 selected major soccer leagues around the world attracted over 107 million spectators in 2014, with the Premier League in England narrowly edging out Germany’s Bundesliga at the top of the total attendance list, with Spain’s La Liga in third.
Based on average attendance, however, the Bundesliga was the highest-ranked soccer league, with 42,609 spectators per match.
Of the three selected cycling tours the Tour de France narrowly surpassed the Giro d’Italia with an estimated audience of 12 million across the 21 days of competition. The Tour de France benefitted from a hugely successful Grand Depart in England that, according to local estimates, attracted over 2.5 million spectators over the two days in Yorkshire.
One of the key aims of the Global Sports Impact Report 2015 is to identify the growth of women’s sport and gender equality, which is a key theme of the International Olympic Committee’s Agenda 2020.
Tennis is one of the sports where the women’s game has had near equal standing to the men’s version thanks to a large extent to their being tournaments for both at the Grand Slams and at other events across the sport.
Tennis attendance for the major tours, Grand Slams and the Davis Cup and Fed Cup competitions totalled over 10 million in 2014, with a 59:41 ratio for men’s and women’s competitions. The WTA tour was the highest attended women’s sporting property of 2014.
But how do you compare the major North American sports with the major soccer leagues of Europe, the major cycling tours and the major tennis tournaments?
Every sport has its own characteristics and nuances that make it different from others. To compare ticketed events like baseball and soccer with the non-ticketed major cycling tours is almost impossible based on attendance data alone.
The Tour de France has, it is estimated, the highest ‘Average Attendance’ of the selected sports properties in 2014 with figure of 571,429, narrowly ahead of the Giro d’Italia.
Outside of the major cycling tours, Formula 1 has one of the highest attendance averages based purely on ‘Race Day’, with 100,482. The second highest was the Ryder Cup that took place at Gleneagles in Scotland, with an average of 83,333, followed by rugby union’s 6 Nations Championship, with 69,398. The NFL was the North American league with the highest average attendance in 2014, with 68,401.
But is ‘Average Attendance’ or ‘Total Attendance’ a good measure for sports that are so completely different and have completely different ticketing policies and attendance characteristics?
How can you compare the ‘Average Attendance’ of a non-ticketed cycling event, like the Tour de France, with a partially ticketed motor racing event, like Formula 1’s Monaco Grand Prix and with a ticketed NFL game?
‘Average Attendance’ and ‘Total Attendance’ are commonly used as measures of an event’s success but it only tells part of the picture. There are many other factors around sports attendance like percentage of tickets sold or total ticket revenue that could also be used. It would certainly change the ‘rating’ of an event if a wide variety of factors were used to assess the ‘value’ of an event.
Sports attendance is just one of the factors considered by the GSI Project. The project aims to develop a methodology that allows major sporting events to be compared across a range of factors ranging from economic, sporting, media, social and environmental impacts.
To read the full ‘Attendance’ analysis in the GSI Report 2015 and to understand how the GSI Project could help you understand more about the impact of sport pre-order the report before September 4th and save 20% off the cost of the report as a Sportcal subscriber.
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4th September 2015
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