THIS YEAR, 106.5 million people tuned in to watch Super Bowl XLIV, making it the largest television event in American history.
That’s a big audience, but not nearly as big as that of the 2006 World Cup, whose total viewership was estimated at 26.29 billion. That means that as a species, we watched an average of three games per person.
It’s difficult to compare the World Cup to the Super Bowl: one is a month-long tournament, while the other is a single game. It’s hard to gather information on an event as international as the World Cup, and some of the numbers may even be inflated. Still, set them side by side, and a clear pattern emerges:
Here’s how the two competitions measure up:
World Cup (2006):
- Final: 715.1 million
- Cumulative: 26.29 billion (est.)
Super Bowl (2010): 106.5 million
Number of Games
World Cup: 64
Super Bowl: 1
Total Time Played
World Cup: 96 hours (not counting stoppage time)
Super Bowl: 60 minutes
Number of Teams
World Cup: 32
Super Bowl: 2
World Cup (2006 est.): $1 billion
Super Bowl (2009): $213 million
World Cup final (2010): $400-$900
Super Bowl (2010): $800-$1,000
Read about the African teams playing in the 2010 World Cup.