UK claims world capital of live sport title with record 2019 attendance
The UK is the only country1 in the world whose sporting attendance is greater than its population, allowing the UK to officially claim the world capital of live sport title according to new analysis by Two Circles.
The total attendance for professional UK sporting events2 will hit 75.1m in 2019, the highest on record and up on 74.6m in 2018. This means the UK tops the global country ranking of attendance-per-capita (1.15 in 2019), followed in second by Australia (0.96), the United States (0.92) and Ireland (0.78).
Two Circles analysis also found that in 2019 live sport will contribute £11.8bn3 to the UK economy.
Total UK Ticketed Attendance for Professional Sport (2013-19)
The strength of UK sporting attendances are the result of a number of factors, including: a large supply of premium sport within a relatively small geographical footprint; citizens in the UK having a higher propensity for live sports experiences than any other country; a well-developed infrastructure of venues with a total sports-event capacity of 5.6m4; and the accessibility of the UK as a travel destination from Europe, North America and Asia5.
Gareth Balch, Two Circles CEO, said: “Sport has long been in the UK’s DNA, and in addition to the UK’s domestic competitions growing their live fanbases, new events such as regular-season NFL and MLB games in London are being added to the calendar. The UK has also shown to be a dependable destination for international federations looking to deliver both amazing atmospheres and commercially-successful competitions.
“Critically, the UK’s attendance growth also demonstrates the impact of a primary ticket sales market. The future growth of sport will centre around direct relationships with fans, and for a rights-owner’s event-day business that means being able to market tickets and hospitality directly to fans rather than through secondary channels – a culture that is inhibiting growth for sports in other countries.”
Total Attendance for Professional Sport (Attendance-Per-Capita, 2019)
Excluding major one-off events, which in 2019 included the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, Netball World Cup and Solheim Cup, the UK sporting attendance in 2019 was 74.0m. This means, excluding major one-off events, UK sports attendances have grown 3.4% year-on-year on average between 2013 and 2019, representing 11m more attendances in 2019 than in 2013.
With a cumulative total attendance of 50.5m, football will be the biggest contributor (67.2%) to UK sporting attendances in 2019. Rugby union attendances are projected to fall by a million on 2018 due to domestic calendar changes to accommodate the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Two Circles processes more sports fan ticketing data for marketing insight than any organisation in the world. Attendance analysis is powered by the Two Circles Ticketing and Hospitality Engines.
1. Only countries recognised by the United Nations with a population over 500,000 are considered
2. Only paid ticketed events for professional, competitive sports events held in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are considered. Attendance figures used are those declared by the hosting rights-holder, which include the number of tickets sold and other relevant attendees granted access to the venue
3. Total spend in the UK directly related to attending live sport in 2019. Covers tickets, hospitality, travel, accommodation, food and beverage and retail
4. Every permanent UK venue that has previously hosted a professional, ticketed sports event is considered
5. Only the UK has two airports (London Heathrow and London Gatwick) in the top 10 list of airports by number of direct flights