Realeyes Study Determines Which Sports Drive the Highest Emotional Response

Keith O'Brien
Keith O'Brien
July 27 2 min read

Billions of people around the globe watch a variety of sports, but which ones truly capture the emotion of the most people? We were happy to use our Emotion Artificial Intelligence facial coding tool to help the UK’s biggest TV platform Freeview answer this question scientifically and definitively.

Realeyes used facial coding to decipher the expressions of the 150 participants (mix of genders and ages) while they watched some of the most popular sports airing on TV this summer.

Tennis sparked the most joy for people who watched at home: 18% of participants displayed happiness or joy as their most powerful emotion. Anyone who has seen Serena Williams hit an improbable shot, Roger Federer serve the ball over 140 MPH, or just a long rally between two incredible players will not be surprised tennis ranked first.

Illustration fo a podium surrounded by happy emoticons with Tennis awarded as the winner

Still frames taken from ten different sports videos

The results were fascinating, which is why ForbesThe Sun, The Daily Mail and others covered this important study.

Perhaps most illuminating about this study was how powerful sports are to provoke reactions in individuals versus averages. Tennis, gymnastics (15%), football (13%), and cricket (13%) all provoked more joy in viewers than video on average (11%). Another 18% also found tennis to be the most “euphoric” sport to watch at home.

The most shocking sport? Well, that was Formula 1 also at 18%. The sport that provoked the most disgust? That would be boxing, with its bloodied visages and knockouts, at 5%. Next time you flinch at a prizefighter hitting the floor, know you’re not alone.

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