Attendance is a good measure of popularity of any sport. The allure of watching the action live and in person remains unbeaten, however big a flat screen television one may own. The average attendance figures across leagues gives a fairly accurate indication of its popularity. The list of top ten leagues in such popularity across the world may surprise you.Here is a look at the top 10 sports leagues across the globe according to attendance figures.
#10 Nippon Professional Baseball- 28,248
The Nippon Professional Baseball league represents the highest level of Baseball in Japan. It was founded in 1950 and currently it fields 12 teams. It divides the teams in two circuits of six teams each, The Central League and The Pacific League. Each season, the winning teams from the two circuits compete in the Japan Series, which is the Championship series of the Nippon Professional Baseball. There have been talks of expanding the league to 16 teams in order to energize the economies of the regions receiving the new teams.
#9 Big Bash League- Avg. attendance- 28,279
The Big Bash League is relatively new to the scene, having been established in 2011. But it has surpassed the wildest expectations of the organizers. A clash between the Melbourne Stars and Renegades drew a crowd of 80,000. The organizers only managed to get 50,000 in the stadium in time with 30,000 fans attempting to trickle in as the game began. "That's flattering, given that the competition is only five years' old, to be in the company of some of those really established sports leagues,”
#8 La Liga- Avg. attendance- 28,498
The La Liga has been the pre-eminent league in Europe for a long while. It has been the top league in Europe over the last 5 years according to UEFA's league coefficient and has been the top league in Europe for more combined years than any other European league (16 years). La Liga clubs have also won the most Champions League tournaments and the most UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League titles. It remains the first and the only league to be represented in a UEFA Champions League final on two occasions.
#7 Major League Baseball- Avg. attendance- 30,517
While the NFL may may supersede the MLB when it comes to popularity, Baseball remains as the great American pastime. It is still the sport which families play in their backyard. Fathers playing catch with their children is an almost stereotypical picture of an American household. The MLB was formed in 1903 and it currently fields 30 teams. 29of the teams are based in the USA and one team is in Canada. The sport has been closely associated with and had a strong role to play in shaping the American culture.
#6 Indian Premier League- Avg. attendance- 31,750
The Indian Premier League continues to be one of the most high profile events in world cricket. It is ironical that it took inspiration from the NBA and today has surpassed it in terms of average attendance by almost double the margin. The IPL was started in 2008 and it has 8 franchises currently. It served as an inspiration for the Big Bash League in Australia which has also amassed a large following.
There have been a total of thirteen franchises in the IPL till date. The IPL Season 8 was sampled by 105 million unique viewers, which was a 9 % increase over IPL 7. The TV ratings climbed 42 %, from 3.1 to 4.5
#5 AFL- Avg. attendance- 33,428
The Australian Football League is the highest level professional competition of Australian rules football. It was formed in 1897 after breaking away from Victoria Football Association. Back then it was named Victorian Football League. Being an old league, the stadiums were initially set to have standing room only sections. Since 1970s though, they have been configured with seats, thereby reducing the maximum capacity of the stadiums. The AFL fields 18 teams currently.
The teams are spread over five of Australia's six states. The AFL doesn't follow a system of promotion and relegation. It works on a single table system with no divisions or conferences.
#4 English Premier League- Avg. attendance- 36,464
The English Premier League is comprised of 20 teams, and although its worldwide popularity may rival that of the NFL, when it comes to average attendance the EPL trails the NFL by almost double of its number. The EPL also employs a system of promotion and relegation of teams. It was formed in 1992 and has seen some of the most intense riots by fans since then, which speaks to the fierce loyalty of the fans.
The EPL enjoys cult following across the globe as well. It is most-watched football league in the world, being broadcast in over 212 territories to over 643 million homes and a potential TV audience of over 4.7 billion people. The EPL teams play a total of
#3 US College Football Division I FBS- Avg. attendance- 43,288
College sports enjoy enormous popularity in the USA. There is a sharp contrast in the hierarchy between college and pro sports. In pro sports leagues, the players hold more power. While in the college leagues, the coaches are the ones with more sway. Tthe standard of competition remains consistently high in college leagues as the players are often playing as an audition to a career in the NFL.
As opposed to the other team sports, an NFL team can have 53 active players out of which 46 can suit up. There are a total of 256 draft slots every year. Unlike the NBA draft which has just 60 players, the NFL draft draws from a wider pool of upcoming talent from colleges and beyond.
There are 125 teams in total in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. The competition to reach the top is cutthroat. For many players a ticket to the NFL is their way out of poverty. They approach the sport with the same dedication as one would attempt in any career.
#2 German Bundesliga- Avg. attendance- 43,331
The German Bundesliga finds itself in second place in terms of average attendance. It has 18 teams in total. One trait it shares with the NFL which helps in its popularity is that both leagues try to follow a one team, one town model. On the other hand, London calls itself home to multiple EPL teams, as does the Melbourne for the AFL. This can dilute the average attendance figures. The Bundesliga was formed in 1962 and the first season was started in 1963.
The Bundesliga also charges cheaper ticket prices than the other premiere soccer leagues such as La Liga and the EPL. The teams are required to be majority owned by the fans. "This is our German football culture: to have standing, and cheap tickets, and the clubs controlled by their members," Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said. “We want everybody to feel it is their club and that is really important. I was a supporter standing for 20 years, I know what it is to stand there, the feeling, the discussions you have there. In Germany, we are a little bit romantic.”
No wonder the fan base of the league feels so inclusive.
#1 NFL: Avg. attendance-68,278
The NFL continues to dominate as the league with the highest attendance figures, beating out second place by roughly 25,000 heads. Interestingly, the NFL attendance figures have actually been declining. Back in 2007, the average attendance was 69,564 heads. And yet it holds a commanding lead. It is estimated that it costs an average of $443.93 to attend an NFL game taking factors such as parking, cost of food, drinks, etc. It is also the most popular sports league in the USA going by television ratings and merchandising.
The Super Bowl is the most watched annual event on US television, and Super Bowl XLIX holds the distinction of being the single most watched program in US television history. Back in 1998, 54% of fans would have preferred to attend a game in person, but in 2011 the number reduced to 29 percent as the fans have the option of live streaming matches wherever they may be.
The NFL was founded in 1920 with a combination of teams from leagues such as Ohio league, New York Pro Football League and the Chicago circuit. It further expanded by partially absorbing the All-American Football Conference in 1949 and by merging with the American Football League in 1970.