by Nikki Adams
What are the most popular seasonal sports to bet on? Depending on perception this can be a challenging question to answer simply because of the subjectivity inherent within ideas of popularity driven by opinions and personal preferences.
Then there’s the reality of geography, culture, logistics, media exposure to consider that add to the challenges faced in this popularity contest, making it therefore difficult to reach consensus with which all could agree on.
A simple search online reveals that European Football (soccer) is the most popular sport worldwide in terms of several metrics. It’s followed by sports such as cricket, tennis, horse racing, NFL, basketball, baseball, rugby, golf but in various order, largely determined by the particular metrics used in the ranking scheme – from fan volume, viewership, investment, revenue, and more, the ranking can alter.
Hence, in lieu of a straightforward answer, in this space, we’ll look at three seasonal sports in terms of the betting – the sports that rake in the most betting volume at the cashier’s window in other words.
- European Football: 4 billion fans
European Football (or soccer as it’s known in North America) is the most avidly watched sport with an estimated global fan haul of 4 billion – and counting, and FIFA World Cup is arguably the most-watched overall live event by average on television worldwide in the 21st century. According to FIFA, a combined 3.572 billion viewers – more than half of the world’s population from the age of 4 and over – tuned in to world’s biggest game in 2018, the last World Cup event hosted by Russia. (The next FIFA World Cup is slated for 2022 in Qatar).
‘The Beautiful Game’ as it is commonly referred to nowadays, ever since the phrase was believed to have been coined by Brazilian football legend Pelé (in Portuguese, ‘O Jogo Bonito’), is played all over, but, arguably, it’s especially popular in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia – with the former continent home to some of the most prestigious football leagues, such as Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and so on, where the world’s best players ply their trade to the delight of fans everywhere.
The reasons for football’s popularity are varied, but one of the most compelling is its unparalleled unifying ability. It’s transcendental, the great equaliser within society because all it requires to play the game is a ball. Hence, anyone rich or poor, young or old, boy or girl can unreservedly enjoy the sport anytime and anywhere. United in their common love for the common game.
This widespread popularity represents an undeniable premium that provides an unequivocable draw for the sports betting industry. Sports and odds go hand-in-hand in the burgeoning business of online betting and European football (or soccer) is, on account of its unchallenged global appeal, therefore one of the most popular and profitable sports to bet on.
- NFL – Biggest Handle
American football (or the NFL as its often referred to by its league name) is in the eyes of many a big sports betting winner. The NFL and its pièce de résistance Super Bowl have been making significant strides globally in the 21st century, and although it still might pale in comparison to the viewership that European football commands worldwide, it nevertheless brings some of the biggest handles each year at several top-rated US-facing sportsbooks.
The NFL is committed to expanding its brand worldwide. Games in the UK are now a common occurrence on the NFL schedule as well the addition recently of a feature game in Mexico City. In the context of betting the reason why American football’s appeal is on the rise is because it offers bettors plenty angles for profit on both the favourites and underdogs and it has one of the highest returns on investments of any of the major sports.
Moreover, bettors, both novice and experienced, are embarrassed for choice when it comes to gaining access to information. American media airs a plethora of shows that are entirely NFL-centric while several networks also dedicate shows focused on gambling analysis of the NFL. Outside of TV, there’s the online ether which serves up a veritable buffet of NFL articles, previews and predictions, betting tips and more for bettors to sink their teeth into. A steady stream that helps raise NFL’s profile and the buzz and hype that surrounds each and every NFL season.
- Tennis – 1 Billion Fans
An estimated one billion people around the world follow tennis, making it one of the most universally popular sports on the planet. As such, it’s also the third most bet on sport globally, which might surprise many bettors who’d have expected big business American sports such as the NBA, MLB and/or NHL to occupy this spot. Although all three are ranked amongst the top sports, they fall behind tennis – at least for the time being.
The main impetus behind the rise in tennis betting is the advent of LIVE betting which offers punters a ton of betting formats to select from. This ability to bet on matches as they unfold has unlocked the door to a whole slew of profit-making opportunities that may not have been there previously, especially in the early rounds of a tournament when there’s typically a considerable mismatch between players in the rankings and, at the same time, lopsided odds that offer very little value either way.
Today one can bet on who will win a point, game, tiebreak or set, never mind just the match. As well, other bets include betting on the number of faults in a game, points, double faults, aces and so on. The options are endless. And given all of this and more, it’s easy to understand how tennis is fast becoming a high frequency betting sport that’s raking in the dollars at the sports betting exchange. After all, it runs weekly over the course of an annual calendar that spans over ten to eleven months at the highest level. And each and every week of the annual tennis season, there’s a tennis event somewhere around the world encompassing both the WTA and ATP Tour.