Super Bowl XLIX was the most-watched broadcast in U.S. television history with 114.4 million people tuning in. But here are three global sporting events that top the NFL's championship game. (Jason Aldag,Ishaan Tharoor/The Washington Post)
Last year's Super Bowl XLIX was the most watched event in U.S. television history, as 114.4 million people tuned in to see the New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks. A similar number of viewers are expected for this year's big game.
Yet while the Super Bowl may be the supreme spectacle on the American calendar, in terms of viewers, it barely holds a candle to these other recent sporting events, as we see in the video above.
Soccer, the preeminent global game, commands huge TV numbers. The final of last year's UEFA Champions League -- a tournament involving Europe's top soccer clubs -- was watched by an audience of more than 180 million. The World Cup final in Rio de Janeiro in 2014 involved a combined in- and out-of-home audience of over a billion viewers. The tournament as a whole was watched by some 3 billion people.
But perhaps more worthy of note was the match in last year's Cricket World Cup between India and Pakistan. The traditional rivals do not often meet in the sporting arena, and so the game, even though it was only in the early stages of the tournament, attracted a huge audience in South Asia.
The BBC estimated that more than 1 billion people watched India's eventual victory over Pakistan in the Australian city of Adelaide. More than 288 million people watched in India alone.
Ishaan Tharoor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. He previously was a senior editor and correspondent at Time magazine, based first in Hong Kong and later in New York.