Which Major US Sports Are Most Popular?

Sports play an integral role in US society and help bring people together. In addition, they are not only lots of fun to play but also to follow. Getting involved with the biggest US sports gives you off-field gossip to catch up on and exciting games to watch as well.

But what else attracts people to the major US sports and which are most popular?

Biggest US sports not just popular to watch 

While the top US sports attract massive followings for the action that the games bring and the drama each season delivers, this is not the only reason people get into them. Being able to bet on the top sports is also a big deal for many people and helps make some sports even more popular. This is because sports at online betting platforms are easy to bet on and come with great value odds and exciting markets to attract more fans.

Sportsbooks themselves also help to make betting on major US sports more appealing and in turn attract more sports betting fans to other games like football or basketball. Top sports betting bonuses are a great example of this – click here for more information on the best current promotions and how they all work. 

While this explains why the biggest US sports are so well loved, it is still worth pinning down exactly which are most popular.


When it comes to popular major US sports, nothing quite touches the NFL. This sport had an estimated US viewership figure of 114.3 million in 2021/22!

But why is football so well loved still by US sports fans? As with other examples, the exciting games and off-field drama all help. Many people have grown up with football and this makes it something familiar to watch. When you add the huge media presence this sport has in the US and how it is always in the latest sporting news, it all becomes clear.


Basketball is perhaps the real success story of modern US sports. It started out purely as a college game, before the professional NBA league was created. 

Although it steadily built up a loyal fanbase in its early years, it was the star players and greater media coverage in the 1980s – plus the high-octane games – that helped it pick up a lot more fans. With an estimated viewership figure in the US of 17 million in 2021/22, you can see that it is becoming more popular with each passing year.

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With millions of fans in the USA and a long history to look back on, baseball is still a popular North American sport. With icons such as Babe Ruth and Willie Mays in its past, it is no wonder it retains such an exalted status.

Interestingly, many would argue it was once THE most popular US sport – before football and basketball took over! The MLB is the premier competition in not only US but also global baseball and sees top teams like the Dodgers compete for the World Series each year.


Although there have always been four big sports that dominate the US scene, soccer is fast making that a big five. The Major Soccer League has grown significantly in the last decade or two and is making its presence felt.

Although many Americans were somewhat suspicious of soccer when the MLS was launched in 1996, millions now follow it regularly. This is largely down to globally known players like David Beckham playing in the MLS, the greater media coverage soccer now gets in the US, and top franchises to support. With 7% of Americans confessing to enjoying soccer games on TV, it also shows it is a great spectator sport to enjoy.

Ice hockey

One of the traditional big four of US sports, ice hockey still has a massive following to this day. Although it might have started to slip behind soccer in recent years, it is thought that around 4% of Americans claim this as their number one sport. 

Of course, the NHL is the major competition here and one of the wealthiest professional sporting leagues around the planet. With a combination of dramatic on-ice action, lots of famous franchises to support and some very well-known star players to keep tabs on, it really is a great sport. 

Major US sports that are most popular

If you were wondering just which major US sports are most popular and why, our list here should help. All the sports we have looked at are not only fun to watch and come with plenty of locker room controversy to follow but are also superb for betting on.

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Author: Ben Burd

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