15 Non-Super Bowl TV Events That Drew a Shit-Ton of Eyeballs

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15 Non-Super Bowl TV Events That Drew a Shit-Ton of Eyeballs

Something America sometimes struggles to wrap its head around is that there’s a bunch of stuff it’s the only place that gives a shit about. You know the NFL? There are like 300 people outside of the USA that could give a rat’s ass about that. The Super Bowl is less a sporting event and more a vehicle for a few funny ads on YouTube and ideally a Beyonce-level superstar giving it their all. 

But within the States, the Super Bowl is the big daddy when it comes to TV ratings. Nothing gets more viewers, causes more cleared schedules and fake illnesses or places more pressure on the remote batteries. But in the grand scheme of things, the 115 million viewers the 2023 Super Bowl got is, well, just not that many. There are big, big-ass events, both one-offs and regularly occurring ones, that make the Super Bowl seem like a local midnight commercial for a closing-down sale at an out-of-town toilet warehouse.

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The Juice: Absolutely Murdering the Super Bowl

150 million people tuned in live in 1995 to see the verdict of the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Afterwards, the audience was satisfied justice had been served and they could all move on and never think about it again.

15 Non-Super Bowl TV Events That Drew a Shit-Ton of Eyeballs

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Weddings in Big Silly Dresses: A Real Grown-up Ball Game

In 2011, Prince William — then second in line to the throne — and Kate Middleton’s wedding drew a global audience of around 162 million people, most shouting at the screen, “Isn't this all a bit stupid and medieval? Grow up!”

15 Non-Super Bowl TV Events That Drew a Shit-Ton of Eyeballs

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A Funeral So Popular It Made Football Seem Dead Boring

Due to being broadcast live by multiple networks for 70 hours, the exact figures of who watched John F. Kennedy’s funeral in 1963 are hard to pin down, but it’s thought to be around 180 million people. Seventy hours, woof.

15 Non-Super Bowl TV Events That Drew a Shit-Ton of Eyeballs

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The Wall Made Super Bowl Viewers Feel Like a Bunch of Bricks

Half a billion people watched Pink Floyd play The Wall in 1990 to celebrate the Berlin Wall coming down the previous year. 350,000 people attended the concert itself in the newly-united city. Imagine the line for the toilets.

15 Non-Super Bowl TV Events That Drew a Shit-Ton of Eyeballs

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No Screens Off for the Silly Mid-Off

Cricket might not be the biggest of sports in the States, but globally it’s enormous. The 2011 World Cup Final between India and Sri Lanka, played in Mumbai was watched by a global audience of 558 million. India won. 

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One Small Step for Man, One Giant Fuckin’ Audience of Mankind

Shame on us all. The 1966 Moon landing — the fucking Moon landing — is only at number 10, one of humanity’s most amazing achievements proving less popular than sports. Still, 650 million people did manage to tune in, which is something. 

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10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Billion

New Year’s Eve always gets a lot of viewers, and the eve of Chinese New Year is no different. 2018’s broadcast by the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV is said to have been watched by a billion people worldwide.

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Super Bowl, You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog

While there is speculation the figures may have been massaged over the decades, Elvis’ Aloha From Hawaii special, broadcast live across Asia and shown in the U.S. a few months later, was supposedly watched by 1.5 billion people. A-huh-huh. 

15 Non-Super Bowl TV Events That Drew a Shit-Ton of Eyeballs

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Super Bowl? No, Super Goal!

The 2022 FIFA World Cup was controversial — many argued it shouldn’t have been held in Qatar due to its appalling human rights record. Nonetheless, 1.5 billion people tuned in to see Argentina beat France in a penalty shootout.

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The Day Nobody Turned Their TV Geld-off

Held simultaneously at Wembley Stadium in London and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia, the 1985 charity concert Live Aid drew 1.9 billion viewers globally and featured an all-star cast of icons plus Joe Piscopo and Chevy Chase.

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Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee, Draw in Viewers Like a Motherfucker

The 1978 rematch of Muhammad Ali’s fight against Leon Spinks — with the original bout ending in victory for Spinks — saw an enormous global audience of 2 billion, with an estimated 47 percent of all TVs in the U.S. tuned in.

15 Non-Super Bowl TV Events That Drew a Shit-Ton of Eyeballs

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The King of Pop’s Posthumous Viewing Figures: Not Bad

2.5 billion people watched Michael Jackson’s funeral in 2009, broadcast from L.A.’s Staples Center and even shown in movie theaters. If you thought people making out during Schindler’s List was bad… 

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Princess Die

The funeral of Princess Diana in 1997 was watched by 2.5 billion viewers globally, despite the time difference meaning it was on at stupid o’clock in the morning in the U.S. What a bleak-ass way to start the day! 

15 Non-Super Bowl TV Events That Drew a Shit-Ton of Eyeballs

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Putting the Ooooooooooooh into Olympics

The opening ceremony of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta was, for over a quarter of a century, the most-viewed event ever, drawing a global audience of 3.5 billion people. Celine Dion sang, Muhammad Ali was there, good times. 

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Ma’am, God Damn, That’s a Lot of Viewers

The state funeral of Elizabeth II in 2023 supposedly drew a colossal four billion viewers across the world, partly because it was so damned long. For such a big audience, you’d think there could have been a bit more showboating.

15 Non-Super Bowl TV Events That Drew a Shit-Ton of Eyeballs

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