The Price of Spectatorship: Fan Spending Across Major Sports Events

Scoreeee! Sports aren’t just a game or a lifestyle, it’s also a multibillion-dollar industry – we’re talking $83.1B to be exact! Now with Formula One revving its engines onto North American turf, they’re taking on established giants like MLB, NFL, and NBA. 

As we’re almost halfway through the year, the spotlight shifts to upcoming sporting events, clashing one another for fans’ attention: the NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals, and Olympics. But out of all the 9 major sports championship events, which ranks #1 in desirability and fan cost investment? To settle the score, we polled over 3,000 North American sports fans to find out. 

Key Findings: 

  • The Super Bowl ranks 1st in spectatorship popularity and fan cost investment, willing to spend $1,598.31 to attend  
  • The World Series claims the runner-up position, with the NBA Finals in 3rd for spectatorship popularity 
  • The Olympics wins the silver medal in ticket splurging, with fans willing to dish out $1,448.28 for the experience 
  • NBA Finals is the most expensive championship event for fans to attend, while the FIFA World Cup ranks as the most affordable 

The most sought-after major sports events 

Hut, hut, hike! The Super Bowl takes the top spot as the most sought-after event, as 34% prefer it over any other big event. It’s no shocker, given that it’s attracted over 100M TV viewers in 2023 and the latest championship bringing in a record-breaking 123.7M. Up in Canada, 19M also tuned in for the big game – that’s nearly 50% of the country’s population! It’s evident that it’s not just a game, but a pop cultural touchdown for both countries. Who wouldn’t want a seat at the event of the year?   

Hey batter, batter – the MLB World Series slides into 2nd base as the most in-demand sporting event to attend. Baseball, dubbed America’s oldest pastimes, is a true classic sport. Whether fans adore it for the game itself or its nostalgia, the MLB World Series is an event that many dream of experiencing in person. 

Swish! Dribbling into 3rd place out of 9, the NBA Finals snags bronze for its popularity amongst sports enthusiasts. The championship series is a definite slam dunk, with the playoffs averaging 5.4M viewers per game, and a whopping 12M for the championship game alone! Its blend of high-energy action and team spirit leaves many fans with serious FOMO, itching to score tickets to the main event.  

Finishing off the rest of the rankings: FIFA World Cup (4th), Olympics (5th), Stanley Cup Finals (6th), The Masters (7th), Formula One Grand Prix (8th), and Grand Slam (9th).  

How much fans are willing pay to attend the championships 

Riding the Super Bowl popularity wave, fans are also willing to max out their credit cards to attend the championship. When asked, “how much would you spend to attend the Super Bowl, if you could”, respondents answered with an eye-popping average of $1,598.31! Think that’s a lot? Well, hold onto your helmets because that’s only a mere 18.9% of the recent Super Bowl’s ticket price tag – which averaged $8,600. Fans will need some serious savings game planning if they want to score tickets.  

With the 2024 Summer Olympics around the corner, it’s clear that fans are ready to go the distance in terms of ticket costs. Ranking 2nd overall, they’re willing to dish out an average of $1,448.28 per ticket – and that’s not including overseas flights or accommodations! Luckily, ticket prices do vary depending on the specific sport. Finals and beloved sports like swimming or gymnastics can cost a grand, while lesser-known events like handball or fencing can come to under $300. Despite the diverse range of sports, fans are willing to dig deep into their pockets to cheer on their country’s athletes in Paris! 

Despite its underdog status in terms of popularity, the Grand Slam proves to be a major contender in fan spending. Ranking as the 3rd most expensive event for fans eager to attend, they’re ready to serve up an average of $1,432.22! Let’s break down the US Open prices for example: Women’s Finals start at $755, while the Men’s Finals kick off at a hefty $2,220 – and those aren’t courtside seats! If you’re hoping for courtside seats, be prepared to spend at least $2,250 for the Women’s Finals or $7,000 for the Men’s Finals.  

Wrapping up the rankings, the FIFA World Cup takes 4th place, with fans willing to spend $1,020.20 to attend. Following is the Formula One Grand Prix (5th), The Masters (6th), NBA Finals (7th), MLB World Series (8th), and the Stanley Cup Finals (9th).  

The most and least affordable events for fans

To determine which major sports event are the most budget-friendly or financially out-of-reach for fans, we compared the average ticket prices that our respondents were willing to pay with the average ticket cost from each of the latest championship or finals events.  

#1 FIFA World Cup – 119% 
#2 Olympics – 93.5%  
#3 The Masters – 54.6% 
#4 Stanley Cup Finals – 49%  
#5 Grand Slam – 43% 
#6 MLB World Series – 39.1%  
#7 Formula One Grand Prix – 30.4% 
#8 Super Bowl – 18.9%  
#9 NBA Finals – 11.9%  

The FIFA World Cup is the most affordable event for fans, with our respondents willing to pay 119% over the average ticket price. While the average 2022 ticket price stood at $855, fans were ready to spend $1,020.20 to secure a ticket. 

On the other end of the spectrum, the NBA Finals is the most out-of-reach sports event, with fans only able to pay 11.9% of the latest average ticket price. With the 2023 NBA Finals ticket averaging $6,080.52, respondents were only willing to shell out an average of $722.12 for entry.  


It’s clear as day that sports is a way of life, sometimes accompanied by serious financial commitments. Luckily, there’s a variety of different championships fans can attend without draining their wallets entirely – whether that be opting for more affordable seating, attending non-final events, or simply enjoying the action from home.  


In May 2024, we conducted a nationwide survey of 3,000 North American sports fans. The average age of respondents was 40.8 years old. The representative sample comprised of 75.1% male, 24.2% female, 0.4% non-binary, and 0.3% transgender.  

Please note that prices are in USD. 

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