In the United States, many sports are played competitively. However, when it comes to the most popular sports in America, a couple of them stand out.
Top 5 Most Popular Sports in America in 2022- Viewership and TV Ratings
According to ExpressVPN’s report on sports streaming, football is the nation’s favorite, closely followed by basketball, soccer, and baseball. Hockey takes fifth place. Let’s dive into the stats and streaming data about these sports.
1. Football (NFL)
With more than 9 million active participants and 112 million TV viewers, American Football, also called Gridiron, is undoubtedly the most loved and watched sport in America.
This is a prevalent sport in the United States. Alongside Australia, the US is the only country that plays the sport at such a high level.
The National Football League (NFL), founded in 1920 in Ohio, is America’s most popular sports league. The NFL reported revenues of 17.19 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 and has been steadily gaining popularity since its inception.
2. Basketball (NBA)
This sport has been around for over 100 years and is also very popular in America. In fact, it is one of the oldest professional sports in America. Basketball has more than 25 million active participants in the U.S.
The National Basketball Association (NBA), founded in 1946 as the Basketball Association of America (BAA), is the second-most popular league in the United States. The NBA reported revenues of 6.41 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 and has experienced steady growth since its inception.
Basketball has been around since 1981 when James Naismith invented it at Springfield College in Massachusetts. Today it is played professionally all over the world, including in China. There are professional teams that have won championships at both national and international levels, such as the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).
3. Soccer (MLS)
Soccer used to have a lower stream figure than baseball in the U.S. However, recent research shows that it has surpassed baseball in 2021.
It has been played worldwide since at least the 19th century, but its popularity has grown, especially since the World Cup was first held on 13th July 1930.
4. Baseball (MLB)
Baseball is fourth on our list. The MLB reported revenues of 6.41 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 and has experienced steady growth since its inception. Baseball, with more than 23 million active participants in the U.S.
The sport is played by teams that consist of nine players per side and have nine innings to complete a game. It has evolved to include five different positions: pitcher, catcher, first baseman, second baseman, and third baseman.
The game’s objective is to score more runs than your opponent by getting as many hits as possible and avoiding being hit by the opposing batter or runner(s).
Each team must always have at least one player who is batting at all times unless there are fewer than two outs.
5. Hockey (NHL)
It was first played in Canada in 1875 at Victoria Skating Rink. It was eventually brought to North America at the beginning of the 20th century.
Hockey players are divided into the following categories: forwards (who score goals), midfield, defending (who prevent goals), and goalkeeping (who stop shots). A typical hockey game lasts between two and four periods of four minutes each.
Data Analysis From ESPN
Additional data shows that:
Over 16.9 million people watched Major League Baseball games on TV last year alone
Over 8 million people watched NBA games on TV last year
Hockey is another popular sport that has seen an increase in interest over time; over 4.6 million people watched NHL games on TV this year.
What Drives Sports Streaming in the U.S.?
In the U.S., interest in streaming football tops all other sports. However, basketball has nearly caught up significantly over the past few years, with soccer’s popularity growing enough to surpass baseball in 2021.
Soccer has always lagged in popularity in the U.S. when compared with countries in Europe and South America. However, the more recent success of the U.S.-based teams like FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Manchester United have helped shift perceptions of what soccer is capable of doing in the U.S.
Notwithstanding, there are other factors at play too. The cord-cutting and cord-shaving trends have led fans to seek out content on their terms rather than through traditional TV channels.
According to Nielsen data from 2021, many Americans choose not to restrict themselves to traditional programming but embrace streaming services.
There is a desire to watch sports regardless of one’s location, which will likely continue driving the streaming market for years to come. Even if people do not subscribe to any of the biggest streaming providers, plenty of options are available.