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The most followed sports leagues and organizations on social media

Football has been the most popular sport in the world for quite some time. But which tournament is more popular for the fans around the globe? Is it the Fifa World Cup, or UEFA’s Champions League? SportingPedia’s latest report answers this question, along with which are the most followed sports leagues and tournaments on social media. One of the research’s most intriguing revelations is that the UEFA’s Champions League is the most followed sports tournament around the globe with a total of 282.1 million followers across the four major platforms (Facebook, Instagram, X and TikTok). Another curious finding is that three of the four sport organizations with the most following are involved in football, with only the 2nd-placed NBA not operating in that field.

Key Takeaways:

  • The UEFA Champions League is the sport tournament with the largest fan base online
  • Team Sports dominate the rankings, occupying 9 of the top 10 positions
  • UFC is the most followed solo sport organization, taking 5th place overall
  • The most sports fans are on Instagram, as that platform accounts for 36.7% of the 1.29 billion followers coming from there; TikTok is last with a share of 11.4%

Methodology: To determine the sports with the highest social media following, we conducted an analysis focused on major sports leagues and organizations. The goal was to identify the sports entities with the most followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok. We recorded the follower count for each sports entity official account and the ranking was determined based on the cumulative followers across all four platforms.

In the age of digital connectivity, sports have transcended the boundaries of stadiums and television screens, finding a new arena for competition – social media. The power of a team or athlete is no longer solely measured by victories on the field but also by the size of their online following. Let’s now delve into the social media landscape of the most prominent sports and their key leagues and tournaments.

1. Football: UEFA’s Champions League (Team)

The UEFA Champions League, the pinnacle of European football, has been captivating fans since 1992, inheriting the legacy of the European Champions Cup established in 1955. With a rich history, the current format involves a group stage followed by knockout rounds. In the latest edition, Manchester City defeated Inter in the final to lift its first ever title. The Champions League’s social media dominance reflects its global appeal, boasting a total of 263.8 million followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

2. Basketball: NBA (Team)

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has been a cornerstone of basketball history, captivating audiences since its establishment. The NBA’s format includes 30 teams competing first in the regular season, which then culminates in the play-offs. In the 2022/23 season, the fans saw the Denver Nuggets clinch their first ever trophy. The NBA’s collective social media following of 195.3 million on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok highlights its widespread popularity.

3. Football: English Premier League (Team)

The Premier League, synonymous with English football excellence, has a storied history dating back to its establishment. The league’s format features top-flight teams competing in a round-robin format. The 2022/23 season showcased thrilling matches and unforgettable moments, and concluded with Manchester City lifting the title. With a social media following of 181.7 million across the four platforms, the Premier League continues to capture the hearts of fans worldwide.

4. Football: FIFA World Cup (Team)

The FIFA World Cup started in 1930 and is like the biggest party for football. Teams from all over the world come together every four years to play and see who is the best. It is super famous and loved by people everywhere. In its latest edition in 2022 the tournament was hosted by Qatar and witnessed Argentina, inspired by Lionel Messi, become the World Champions. On Facebook, 57 million people like it, and on Instagram, 45.1 million follow it. Also, 12.7 million are on Twitter, and 19.1 million enjoy it on TikTok.

5. MMA: UFC (Solo)

The Ultimate Fighting Championship has revolutionized the world of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) since its inception. With a dynamic format featuring solo fighters in various weight classes, the UFC consistently delivers adrenaline-pumping events. The latest edition saw fighters from around the globe showcasing their skills in the octagon. The UFC’s social media presence, with 105.4 million followers, reflects the global appeal of MMA.

6. American Football: NFL (Team)

The National Football League has a rich history dating back decades, shaping the landscape of American football. The NFL’s format involves a competitive regular season leading to the grand spectacle of the Super Bowl. In the latest edition, fans witnessed intense matchups and memorable plays that defined the season, which culminated in Kansas City Chiefs winning the Super Bowl. The NFL’s 93.1 million social media followers attest to its enduring popularity.

7. Cricket: ICC (Team)

Cricket, with its timeless traditions, is overseen by the International Cricket Council. Even though ICC is not a league or a tournament, it is the most followed cricket-orientated account by a large margin.Established to govern international cricket, the ICC organizes prestigious events such as the Cricket World Cup. The latest edition saw cricketing nations competing for glory, with fans sharing the excitement across social media platforms. The ICC’s 89.5 million followers highlight cricket’s global appeal.

8. Motorsport: Formula 1 (Team)

Formula 1, established in 1950, stands as the epitome of high-speed racing excellence. Each year, elite drivers compete in a series of races to determine the fastest on the track. The 2023 season just finished this past Sunday, with Max Verstapen clinching the drivers’ championship and Red Bull trumphing in the manufacturers championship. With a substantial online presence, Formula 1 boasts 56 million followers across various platforms. This includes 13 million on Facebook, 25.4 million on Instagram, 9.9 million on Twitter, and 7.5 million on TikTok.

9. Baseball: MLB (Team)

Established in the historical tapestry of 1869, Major League Baseball proudly stands as one of the venerable pillars of professional sports. Across the epochs, MLB has woven narratives of sporting brilliance, creating an enduring bond with its fan base. The Texas Rangers won the World Series for the first time in franchise history in 2023, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks in the finals four games to one. With a collective social media following of 38.3 million, MLB engages enthusiasts on Facebook (9.5 million), Instagram (10.5 million), Twitter (11.3 million), and TikTok (7 million), embodying a timeless charm and a dedication to fostering connections with fans.

10. Hockey: NHL (Team)

Unveiling its skates in 1917, the National Hockey League has gracefully glided through a century, establishing itself as the domain of professional ice hockey. Crossing the threshold of time, the NHL’s narrative intertwines with the evolution of the sport and the ascent of iconic players. In 2023 it was the Vegas Golden Knights who went on to win their first ever Stanley Cup, defeating Florida Panthers in five games. With a total of 20.6 million followers, the NHL’s influence extends across Facebook (4.8 million), Instagram (6.3 million), Twitter (6.9 million), and TikTok (2.6 million).

Other Solo Sports:

Besides UFC, which alone of the solo sports broke into the top 10, we have gathered data also for tennis, golf and cycling.

11. Tennis: Wimbledon (Solo)

With roots dating back to 1877, Wimbledon stands as the epitome of tennis excellence, charming audiences with its rich history and tradition. Over the decades, this prestigious tournament has witnessed legendary showdowns on the grass courts, showcasing the finesse and skill of top tennis athletes. In 2023 the fans gathered at the Centre Court in All England Club saw the young Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz defeat Novak Djokovic in the final. On the digital front, Wimbledon boasts a respectable social media following, totaling 16.8 million across Facebook (5.8 million), Instagram (4.8 million), Twitter (4 million), and TikTok (2.2 million).

13. Golf: PGA Tour (Solo)

Stepping onto the golfing stage in 1929, the PGA Tour has been a pivotal force shaping the landscape of professional golf. With close to a century of history, this prestigious tour has witnessed the finest golfers navigating the greens of iconic courses. Digitally, the PGA Tour holds a substantial following of 13.7 million enthusiasts, dispersed across Facebook (4.7 million), Instagram (4.5 million), Twitter (2.9 million), and TikTok (1.6 million).

16. Cycling: Tour de France (Solo)

Pedaling into existence in 1903, the Tour de France has become the ultimate battleground for cyclists, weaving through picturesque landscapes and testing the limits of human endurance. With over a century of legacy, it leaves behind the other major events in the world of cycling like the Italian Giro d’Italia or the Spanish La Vuelta. In 2023 was Tour de France’s 110th edition which was won by Jonas Vingegaard. On social media, Tour de France commands a following of 9.3 million, spread across Facebook (3 million), Instagram (2.1 million), Twitter (3.1 million), and TikTok (1.1 million).

Raw Data

* Followers in millions

SportTypeTournament/League/OrganizationFacebook FollwersInstagram FollowersX FollowersTikTok FollowersTOTALS
FootballTeamUEFA Champions League86.00111.0050.5034.60282.10
FootballTeamPremier League56.0071.5042.6013.50183.60
FootballTeamFIFA World Cup57.0045.1012.7019.10133.90
American FootballTeamNFL19.0028.4034.3012.5094.20
CricketTeamInternational Cricket Council40.0029.8021.501.7093.00
MotorsportTeamFormula 113.0025.409.907.5055.80
GolfSoloPGA Tour4.704.502.901.6013.70
VoleyballTeamVolleyball World5.002.500.463.1011.06
CyclingSoloTour de France3.
Totals followers for each platform404.68472.42264.70146.61