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What is Greater: Super Bowl vs FIFA World Cup

In soccer, there’s nothing bigger than the World Cup. Not the Euros, not the Champions League, players and fans alike dream of international glory. And when it comes to football, the Super Bowl is hands down the big-ticket event (February 7th, we’re watching). No question.

But which is greater?

We’re not going to talk about which game is ‘better’. Or which has the most passionate fans. Let’s take this debate to the sheer numbers; after all, they don’t lie (or do they?).

Viewing Figures

If we’re talking basic total viewing figures, then the World Cup wins, hands down. Take a look at the stats for the 2014 edition: over a billion international viewers, with 695 million watching Messi and Götze battle it out for 20 consecutive minutes or longer. And for 2018, the billion watcher mark was also surpassed, with 516.6 sticking around for longer than 20 consecutive minutes.

The Super Bowl can’t hold a candle against those numbers. The Super Bowl with the highest viewing figures ever, the 2015 edition (Patriots vs. Seahawks) managed 114.4 viewers in the United States, and approximately 30-50 million internationally. Paltry by comparison…

But is it really fair to compare the viewing stats in this way? The World Cup takes place every four years, with a huge buildup in between. The Super Bowl, on the other hand, is an annual event. For the casual fan, there’s always next year.

It’s an unfair comparison, and difficult to disentangle. Do we quadruple the Super Bowl’s viewing figures to achieve a fair fight? In that scenario, the numbers stack up.

What About the Green? 

Okay, so maybe the World Cup gets more eyes glued to the television. But what about the money? The NFL is known as the most profitable sports league on the planet, so perhaps this is a closer fight.

In 2018, the World Cup generated $5.4 billion, equating to roughly 84.4 million per game played. The NFL season surpasses this figure, generating $14 billion total, with an average of $52.4 million per game.

Again, it’s a difficult comparison. The NFL is a regular league season, the World Cup a single event that runs for approximately one month. Yes, the World Cup’s per game revenue is also higher, but again you bump into the annual vs. every 4 years issue.

Our conclusion? Both events make a mind-boggling amount of money, no matter how you spin the arithmetic.

The Players’ Payroll 

We’ve compared how much the events generate in terms of revenue, but what about the players? Let’s take a look at how much they take home.

In 2014, each German player received $408,000 for winning the World Cup. When the Patriots won the Super Bowl in 2019, the per player figure was $118,000. The World Cup is more profitable for the players’ coffers, clearly. Or…?

You also have to consider that every NFL team has a 53-man roster, whereas countries can only register 23 players for the World Cup. While the World Cup still beats the total amount based on that calculation, it’s a far smaller margin.

Television Advertising 

You gotta hand it to the United States here, no question. The Super Bowl is famous for its commercials, with the cost of a 30-second slot costing over five million bucks. For the World Cup, you’re talking about a fifth of that amount for the 2014 World Cup.

And if you consider that the Super Bowl has a ridiculous number of ads running throughout the game (the World Cup has no time-outs), that figure comes into even sharper focus.

The Super Bowl knows how to advertise its product, and the 30-second commercial slots have become legendary. The World Cup could learn a thing or two from the NFL when it comes to selling ad space.

Should We Even Compare? 

The World Cup and Super Bowl are both watched by millions. They rake in the cash each and every final. Within their respective sports, it’s the biggest show available. And if you’re a fan of one, it doesn’t mean you automatically don’t watch the other. It’s not an either-or.

So why compare? Sure, it’s interesting to see a head to head of the figures, but they’re both big-time events and deliver each and every time. The fans love it.

Can we just agree to rate them as must-see television and each as titanic events in their own right?

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