History The 10 Most-Watched Events In Television History  

Brendan Kelly
1.4k views 10 items

Getting millions or even billions of people around the world to do the same thing at the same time is no small feat. Every once in a while, though, a special event takes place that demands the attention of a large percentage of the world's population. The most-watched TV events in history draw in staggering numbers of diverse viewers.

Popular television programs can gauge what's interesting on a global level. It seems that the highest-rated TV shows are widely disseminated for a reason.


President John F. Kennedy's Funeral - 1963

President John F. Kennedy'... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The 10 Most-Watched Events In Television History
Photo: Abbie Rowe/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Estimated Number of Viewers: 180,000,000

On November 22, 1963, Americans learned John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, had been assassinated by a sniper in Dallas, TX. Three days later, the funeral took place, and an estimated 180 million people tuned in to the ceremony. The event was screened in 93 percent of American homes equipped with a television. Additionally, about 250,000 people attended the funeral in Washington, DC.


Prince William And Catherine Middleton's Wedding - 2011

Prince William And Catherine M... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The 10 Most-Watched Events In Television History
Photo: Anwar Hussein/Contributor/WireImage

Estimated Number of Viewers: 350,000,000

On April 29, 2011, several hundred million people tuned in to watch Catherine Middleton marry Prince William at the Westminster Abbey in London, England. The viewer count includes millions who streamed the royal wedding on YouTube in 188 countries.


Cricket World Cup Semi-Final (India Vs. Pakistan) - 2011

Cricket World Cup Semi-Final (... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The 10 Most-Watched Events In Television History
Photo: Graham Crouch/Stringer/Getty Images Sport

Estimated Number of Viewers: 400,000,000

When sport rivals India and Pakistan were slated to face off in the second semifinal of the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011, fans from both countries wanted to watch. The match was held on March 30 in Mohali Stadium in Punjab, India. The stadium was filled with 35,000 passionate fans, including celebrities, diplomats, and prime ministers from both India and Pakistan.

The match let down a lot of Pakistan's fans, as India took the lead and moved on to the final. There they faced off against Sri Lanka and won again.


Spring Festival Gala - 2012

Spring Festival Gala - 2012 is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The 10 Most-Watched Events In Television History
Photo:  CCTV

Estimated Number of Viewers: 498,000,000

The Spring Festival Gala is an annual special produced by China Central Television (CCTV) to celebrate the Chinese New Year; it first aired in 1983. Previously recognized by Guinness World Records as the most-watched variety show in the world, the program is incredibly popular.

In 2012, roughly 498 million viewers, primarily from China, tuned in to watch the gala.