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Most watched sporting events of 2020

In a year that featured two full months without live sports — followed by an unprecedented crush of competing events — the NFL asserted its dominance as other leagues hit historic lows.

The NFL generated 82 of the 85 largest sports audiences in 2020, with the three exceptions being three college football bowl games last January — the New Year’s Day Rose Bowl and Citrus Bowl and the January 13 LSU-Clemson National Championship. The top non-football sporting event ranked 86th, Game 6 of the World Series.

Outside of the NFL, only seven sportscasts averaged at least ten million viewers in 2020* — and four of those seven took place in the first two weeks of the year, well before the wave of cancellations and postponements that altered the industry in March. After some initial strong audiences for events like the NFL Draft and the ESPN documentary “The Last Dance” in April and May, the return of sports in the summer and fall was marked by steep declines and record-low ratings.

See more at Sports Media Watch.

Excluding NFL telecasts, NASCAR had three events in the top 50 of other sports: the Daytona 500 (No. 22), Darlington on May 17 — NASCAR’s return to racing (No. 31), and Las Vegas in February (No. 43).