Sports Leagues Popularity

As my bots continue to bring me data from all across the interwebs I am constantly thinking about interesting questions to ask it.

As I have been focused on numbers generated by various sports leagues I began to wonder about the popularity of these various leagues themselves…

The Popularity of Sports Leagues

For this list I simply counted the number of mentions each league had in my collected data.  While not the most scientific method it should give us a fairly good idea of the popularity of each league online.

My data is scraped from a wide variety of sites from across the web.  The list of sites I collect data from is largely U.S. based now since I have no idea what the EU is trying to do with their new crazy rules

The NFL Still Rules

That being the case, it is of little surprise to me that the NFL is the most popular sports league today.  You might think that is would be less popular since it is the off season but the combine, draft, etc. is on the horizon which stokes interest.

The NBA is closing in tho…  I do not have the data but I imagine that the NBA would show steady growth, not to mention a steady closing of the margin vs. The NFL over the past few years.

The NFL and the NBA dwarf every other league:

 1 NFL 37470 National Football League
 2 NBA 31731 National Basketball Association
 3 NHL 13326 National Hockey League
 4 MLB 12560 Major League Baseball
 5 UFC 11711 Ultimate Fighting Championship
 6 WWE 10557 World Wrestling Entertainment
 7 Olympics 9916 International Olympic Committee
 8 NASCAR 7527 National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing
 9 Premier 5329 The Premier League
 10 AAF 5222 The Alliance of American Football
 11 PGA 5082 Professional Golfers’ Association
 12 WNBA 2445 The Women’s National Basketball Association
 13 F1 2346 Formula One
 14 NHRA 1371 The National Hot Rod Association
 15 SEC 1260 NCAA Southeastern Conference
 16 WBA 1241 World Boxing Association
 17 ACC 1079 NCAA Atlantic Coast Conference
 18 WTA 918 Women’s Tennis Association
 19 XFL 858 X Football League
20 PBA 843 Professional Bowlers Association
 21 FIFA 689 The Federation Internationale de Football Association
 22 WBO 658 World Boxing Orginization
 23 UEFA 551 Union of European Football Associations
 24 lpga 345 Ladies Professional Golfers’ Association
 25 ISL 312 Indian Super League

People in the U.S. love football so much that there are three pro football leagues on this list and one of them is not even functional at this point.

It’s interesting that Tennis is the only sport where the women are more popular than the men.  Men’s tennis cannot even rank ahead of the Indian Super ( soccer ) League…

And while we are on the topic – Major League Baseball wtf?

I know opening day is still down the road and hockey is in season, but that is ridiculous.  MLB makes money  but nobody with a straight face can claim that it is on par with the NFL or NBA these days in terms of popularity.

My final comment is about boxing.  Once upon a time the heavy-weight champion was the most famous athlete in the world.  Can you even name the current champ?    Maybe if Anthony Joshua defeats Deontay Wilder and unifies the titles it’ll make a dent in the public zeitgeist.

Alternatively the UFC just continues to gain popularity.  I would not be surprised at all if it passes Major League Baseball at some point… 



  1. The NBA will overtake the NFL at some point. It’s just a matter of time with the concussions, kapernicks, etc.

    1. I think that things are trending that way. Unless NBA players start to take knees or if a cure for concussions is found the NBA will overtake the NFL in popularity over the next decade.

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