The most watched sporting event in the world is the World Cup. Soccer (Football in the rest of the world) is the national sport of most countries in the world, and as such is an incredibly popular sport world wide. The World Cup finals in 2006 drew even more viewers than the Olympic opening ceremony (which itself doesn’t really count as a sporting event because no sports are played at the opening ceremony…)
To add to the previous answers, the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa had close to 1.5 billion viewers over the course of the tournament. This made it the most watched sporting event in world history. That number is the number of people watching streaming video from network TV or Internet.
Definitely the World Cup, followed by the summer olympics. Only in the US is football the most watched sport.
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