India and Pakistan just met in a cricket match that was likely the most watched sporting event in 2015, drawing as much as 10 times the viewers as the Super Bowl earlier this month.
While it may not even cross the minds of many Americans, cricket is close to being the world’s favorite sport, neck and neck with soccer in terms of global viewers. A big reason for that is India, a country of about 1.2 billion people obsessed with cricket.
That’s what made Sunday’s India vs. Pakistan match so huge. The longtime rivals ended up in the same pool of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, and just happened to draw each other for the first match.
Experts said the India vs. Pakistan match was likely the biggest match in the history of the sport, thanks to an audience that has grown considerably since India won the last World Cup in 2011. This is due in large part to new options for streaming video online, as well as a rapidly growing internet-connected audience in India.
But just how big was the India vs. Pakistan cricket match? Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said he believed about one billion people worldwide would be watching the match — about 15 percent of the total population on the planet.
“We actually anticipate that that could be the most watched cricket match ever in the history of the game,” he told ABC News Breakfast before the contest.
By comparison, the Super Bowl typically draws about 150 million viewers worldwide, with the vast majority in the United States.
Sutherland noted that tickets for the India vs. Pakistan match were gone within minutes — and that was almost a year ago.
“Tickets went on sale in Adelaide six to 12 months ago. They were sold out in 20 minutes,” he said. “More tickets have since come on sale. They’ve basically gone in seconds.”
For those who aren’t too impressed by numbers, this picture is a perfect illustration of the importance of the India vs. Pakistan cricket match. Posted to the Cricket message board on Reddit, it shows a couple in India who accidentally scheduled the most important day of their life at the same time as the biggest game in history.
The picture showed a wedding in India that had a live monitor of the match mounted inside the wedding hall — as the ceremony itself was taking place.
While they may have made a mistake in scheduling, the couple averted a total disaster. India went on to win the match.