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The fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman is claimed to have a billion viewership.

For example Jet (Sep 1995):

the first one-billion viewer fight

Revisiting 'The Rumble in the Jungle' 40 years later:

reportedly reached one billion viewers,

This is quite hard to believe since the world had four billion total population at the time so one in four people would've needed to watch this. I am skeptical there were even enough televisions to do this. For example, Chinese Television and Radio claims "In 1978, there were 1 million television sets in China". India Media Stats claims "The number of Indian households with a TV set went from less than 1% in 1975...".

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    One billion viewers doesn't necessarily equal one billion TV sets. If you assume every TV tuned into the fight is being watched by five people, you "only" need 200 million. Having said that, how do you know how many people are watching a given TV set? I'd be surprised if there are any concrete viewership figures, at least on a global scale.
    – F1Krazy
    Jan 4 at 17:24
  • In some poor rural communities, there might be a very large number of people watching the only television available. Jan 4 at 21:28
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    @F1Krazy Today, companies like Neilsen run large scale scientific surveys and extrapolate total viewership of given items. If there's any scientific surveys regarding this specific moment of television history, then we certainly could get a high confidence answer.
    – fredsbend
    Jan 4 at 21:29
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    From what I am reading on wiki that isn't even the largest audience for one of his boxing matches and his funeral drew around that as well. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – Joe W
    Jan 5 at 0:39
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    @JoeW By the time of his funeral, there were 7 billion people in the world, and a much wider access to television, so that is considerably less surprising than the claims for the 1970s fights.
    – IMSoP
    Jan 5 at 10:49

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