10 events that stopped the world
Find out the events, such as Barack Obama’s inauguration, the Apollo 11 moon landing, and Rumble in the Jungle, that had the biggest TV audience share in history.
With research from Betway online slots, find out the biggest television events in history, with the biggest global audience shares below:
BARACK OBAMA’S INAUGURATION
20/01/09 – 1BN viewers – 14% global population
The inauguration of Barack Obama was one of the most significant events in American history and attracted more international attention than ever before.
The first ever black president of the USA was sworn in with a global television audience of one billion, which translates to 14 out of every 100 people on the planet.
In Kenya, the home country of Obama’s father, a public holiday was declared to mark the event.
In Jakarta, Indonesia, a midnight ball was held at State Elementary School Menteng 01, which was the school Obama attended as a child.
The city of Obama in Japan, meanwhile, celebrated the event with fireworks, bell-ringing and hula dancing.
PRINCE CHARLES and DIANA’S WEDDING
29/07/81 – 750M viewers – 17% global population
Which event, described by many as a fairytale, was watched by a global television audience of 750m and marked by a national holiday in the UK?
No, the British government haven’t started taking Snow White and the Seven Dwarves too seriously, the answer is the ‘wedding of the century’ between Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981.
The service was conducted at St. Paul’s Cathedral in front of 3,500 guests, while crowds of over two million lined the route of Diana’s procession from Clarence House.
A further 600,000 flooded the streets surrounding St Paul’s to celebrate the marriage.
Those crowds were managed 4,000 police and 2,200 military officers, with $600,000 being spent on security out of a total cost of $48m for the wedding.
But those spectator numbers were nothing on the masses watching the festivities from afar.
Of the 750m viewers, 28.4m of those came from the UK alone with BBC and ITV both broadcasting the event. The remainder, meanwhile, were split across 73 other countries.
APOLLO 11 MOON LANDING
20/07/69 – 650M viewers – 18% global population
For many, this was farfetched fantasy becoming reality.
For NASA, it was the culmination of a national goal set by John F. Kennedy in 1961, to perform a crewed lunar landing and return to earth.
It also confirmed that the USA had won the space race.
It is estimated that 650m people – just under a fifth of the world’s population – watched Neil Armstrong become the first human to set foot on the moon.
Those numbers are more impressive when you consider Armstrong’s first steps were at 22:56 in New York, 03:56 in the UK and 02:56 in continental Europe.
There have been another 10 people to walk on the moon since the Apollo 11 moon landing, but none stopped the world in quite the same way as those who did it first.
THE WALL: LIVE IN BERLIN – 21/07/90
1BN viewers – 18% global population
Performing a live music concert in front of 350,000 people, and another billion across 52 countries worldwide, is one thing.
To do so on the site of where part of the Berlin Wall had stood just eight months previously has the potential to stop the world.
Roger Waters’ performance of Pink Floyd’s 11th studio album, The Wall, took place in Potsdamer Platz in July to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall, that had stood between 1961 and 1989.
Among the stellar guests Waters performed with during the show were Cyndi Lauper, Bryan Adams and Joni Mitchell.
The stage design, meanwhile, featured a 170m-long and 25m-high wall that was knocked down at the end of the show.
BEIJING OLYMPICS OPENING CEREMONY
08/08/08 – 1.4BN viewers – 21% global population
Widely regarded by many as the greatest opening ceremony in the history of the Olympics, Beijing put on a spectacle unlike any other.
The ceremony started at 20:00 on 08/08/08, owing to the significance of the number eight in Chinese culture.
Such were the lengths organisers went to to ensure a smooth show, they even altered the weather. Over 1,000 rain dispersal rockets were fired above the Bird’s Nest Stadium the night before the show to blow away lingering clouds.
And the spotless show proved a hit across the globe.
Lasting for four hours and nine minutes and with 15,000 performers in total, the show cost $100m to produce.
Along with 1.4bn viewers across the globe, there were also 105 heads of state and government in attendance, which – until London 2012 – made it the largest gathering of world leaders for a sporting event in history.
RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE
30/10/74 – 1BN viewers – 25% global population
What do you get if you cross a quarter of the population of the world, two of the best boxers to have ever lived and the Democratic Republic of Congo?
The Rumble in the Jungle, obviously.
Mohammed Ali’s victory over the previously unbeaten George Foreman in Kinshasa has been described as the greatest sporting event of the 20th century.
The fight grossed an estimated $100m in worldwide revenue and, with one billion people watching, was a global phenomenon.
ELVIS: ALOHA FROM HAWAII
14/01/73 – 1BN viewers – 25% global population
On 14 January 1973, Honolulu International Center, Hawaii was host to something ground-breaking.
At the Honolulu International Centre, Elvis Presley became the first solo performer to be broadcast live via satellite across the world.
The event, which was the first to be simulcast in 40 countries worldwide, was watched by an estimated audience of 1bn – equivalent to a quarter of the entire global population.
The production costs of the show were $2.5m, while it also raised $75,000 for the Kui Lee Cancer Fund.
Promoters of the show originally wanted it to take place in Tokyo, but settled on Hawaii with Elvis’ manager Colonel Tom Parker allegedly unable to leave the USA.
In fact, Elvis never performed outside North America during his career. The only cities outside the USA that he did play in were Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver.
PRINCE HARRY and MEGHAN’S WEDDING
19/05/18 – 1.9BN viewers – 25% global population
Another Royal wedding, and Prince Harry pips his parents for popularity in terms of global audience and population share.
Harry and Meghan Markle walked down the aisle of St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle with 600 guests in attendance, including Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams and David Beckham.
While that number is down 2,900 on his parents, there were an extra 1.15bn people across the world who tuned in compared to Charles and Diana.
Of those viewers, an estimated 29.2m came from the USA despite the ceremony beginning at 04:00 Pacific Time and 07:00 Eastern Time – for context, that 2.7m more Americans than those who watched the Oscars that year.
02/07/05 – 2BN viewers – 31% global population
Ten cities, 10 music concerts and the biggest television audience of all time.
Live 8 remains one of the most iconic and successful benefit events that has ever taken place, alongside Live Aid (more on that later).
Organised close to the 20th anniversary of Live Aid, it preceded the G8 conference held in Gleneagles, Scotland and had the aim of getting world leaders to pledge money to global poverty.
With an extra $25bn – $50bn pledged by world leaders in the aftermath, it is hard to argue the impact.
In total, more than 1,000 musicians performed at concerts in London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Philadelphia, Ontario, Tokyo, Johannesburg and Cornwall.
Among the performers across the world were U2, Stevie Wonder and Madonna, plus many others.
Tickets were allocated via a text ballot, although for those who were unlucky, the concerts were broadcast across 182 television networks and watched by almost a third of the global population.
13/07/85 – 1.9BN viewer – 39% global population
Live Aid was the music gig of all music gigs.
Held simultaneously at Wembley Stadium in London and John F. Kennedy in Philadelphia and organised by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, its aim was to raise funds for the relief of Ethiopian famine.
Held 20 years prior to its successor Live 8, it still attracted 1.9bn television viewers – just 100,000 short of the more recent event – in 150 different countries, translating to nearly two people in every five on the planet.
The London concert itself was also host to one of the most iconic live music performances of all time, with Freddie Mercury and Queen playing the show of their lives – their 21-minute performance was later voted the greatest live show in the history of rock music.
Alongside Queen, there were also performances from The Who, David Bowie and the Boomtown Rats, featuring Geldof himself, among many more.