What Are The Top Five Most Popular Sports in India?

Explore the undiscovered details about the top five most popular sports of India that have been ruling the country of 141.72 Crores for decades. 

Although decades back India was referred to as a largely cricket-centric country, it has now evolved as a dominating force across various sports at a global level. With the active participation of athletes in various sports, including football, wrestling, basketball, archery, swimming, tennis, and many more, India, after decades of being underrated, has finally established itself as a formidable opponent in various top-notch and highly competitive tournaments, including world championships and the Olympic Games. With prominent football champions, Sunil Chhetri, Gurpreet Singh, and Anirudh Thapa, swimming stalwarts, Srihari Natraj, Sajan Prakash, Vridhawal Khade, and tennis stars Rohan Bopanna, Sania Mirza, and Sumit Nagal, India has produced a plethora of champions in the diverse world of sports. As a result of the active inclusion of such prominent athletes and intense rivalries at the championships on a global level, the attention of sports viewers in India has also witnessed an incredible upsurge. According to the reports and statistics, as of 2023, the sports fan base of India stands at a phenomenal estimated average count of 140 million. 

In this article, we will take a look at the top five most popular sports in India that garner viewership of millions.

  1. Cricket 

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More than a mere sport, cricket is revered by millions of fans in India as a mainstream religion. With highly competitive and action-packed matches against arch-rivals, Indian cricket fans never fail to add on to the rich viewership of cricket in India. According to reports and recent statistical figures, as of 2024, a total of 530 million cricket aficionados watch cricket on a regular basis. The most recent edition of the ICC World Cup 2023 garnered an astonishing and record-breaking online viewership of 51.8 Crores all over the country. With prominent cricketers including Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill, Shikhar Dhawan, Hardik Pandya, Rohit Sharma, and many more taking over the youth of the country as the most revered idols, the sport of cricket has witnessed an enormous increase in youth viewership. Furthermore, India’s home-grown Indian Premier League (IPL) format with fuming rivalries, controversial moments, and nerve-wracking matches further amplify the craze of cricket among the Indian fans, making it one of the most popular sports in India with the highest viewership.

2. Field Hockey 

Although cricket continues to dominate the country with its amplified viewership statistics, hockey is also considered to be a mainstream sport viewed and followed by millions across the country. The national game of India, hockey, is one of the oldest sports in the world. With the active inclusion of eminent athletes, including the legendary Dhyan Chand, Leslie Claudius, Udham Singh Kular, Randhir Singh, and Shankar Lakshman, the popularity of field hockey has witnessed an unprecedented and incredible upsurge among the Indian sports base. With a total of eight gold medals, three bronze medals, and a silver medal, India has proved to be a formidable opponent at the Olympic Games. Additionally, the Indian men’s hockey team has clinched the coveted Asian Championship Trophy for a record-breaking four times in the years 2011, 2016, 2018, and 2023, symbolizing Indian dominance in the arena of field hockey on an international scale.

3. Football 

With an estimated viewership of 200 million, football is one of the most popular sports in India. Over the years, the intense rivalries and spine-chilling matches in the English Premier League (EPL), La Liga, Serie A, and the UEFA Champions League formats have garnered an enormous following from football aficionados in the country. Moreover, the active participation of prominent youth football players, including Sunil Chhetri, Narender Gahlot, Sivasakhti Narayanan, Himanshu Jangra, and Vikram Pratap Singh has also played a major role in attracting an enormous viewership from the millennials and Gen Z population of India. Additionally, the emergence of India’s home-grown Indian Super League (ISL), which features both Indian and international players, has also played a pivotal role in revolutionizing the sports culture in India.

Also ReadDo you know what are the five best goals in football?

4. Kabaddi 

Kabaddi is one of the oldest sports that originated in ancient India and has been enjoying extensive popularity since its inception. Often revered as the state game for multiple Indian states, including Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh, the game of kabaddi made its debut at the Olympic Games in 1938. With an enormous estimated viewership of around 300 million, Kabaddi is considered to be one of the most popular sports in India. The ever-rising prominence of Kabaddi in India can be majorly attributed to the prominent wrestlers, including Sushil Kumar, Geeta Phogat, and Bajrang Punia, who represent India on the international stage and garner an enormous viewership from national as well as international fans. The Indian Men’s Kabaddi team has earned remarkable achievements under their name, including their record-breaking victory in all three Kabaddi World Cup events held till now. Additionally, the Indian kabaddi men’s team has also clinched a total of eight gold medals at the Asian Games since their debut in 1990, making them the most successful kabaddi team in the world.

Also ReadThe Top Five Popular Kabaddi Tournaments In The World

5. Badminton 

With an estimated viewership of 180 million, badminton is widely considered to be one of the most popular sports in the country. With Indian stalwarts of badminton including P.V. Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth, and Sai Praneeth dominating the arena of badminton on an international level, the prominence of the sport has witnessed an incredible upsurge in recent years. With active participation from Indian badminton players in the Olympic Games, World Championships, and BWF World Tour tournaments, and with a total of three Olympic medals, including two bronze medals and a single silver medal. Moreover, over the past few years, there has also been a substantial increase in the number of training centers and training faculties for badminton in India, making it a popular sport among the youth population of the country.

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