Sports movies are pop-culture favorites all around the world. The genre in itself is unique. It combines the love of a certain sport with an individual storyline, thereby effectively blending two genres into one—sports being the first, and then another such as action, drama, adventure, comedy, etc. Heck, some of these movies even consider themselves a three-genre act, where they blend sports with, say, drama and comedy.
Recently, though, the capacity to consume sports movies has taken on an entirely new life of its own. Not only are streaming powerhouses such as Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV+ and more pumping out their own original sports-related movies and series, but there’s a sudden interest in tracking the popularity of films, both new and old.
This is most noticeable within the sports betting industry. And no, we’re not kidding. Well-known sportsbooks like Xbet, among many others, offer odds on which sports movies will close every year as the most popular (i.e. most watched) films of the genre. There is also a newfound push in Hollywood to track the viewer metrics on sports films across streaming services so that they understand which upcoming movies to promote—and which upcoming plotlines to tweak—most aggressively.
With so much interest tied to the most popular sports movies on streaming platforms in 2022, we naturally thought it would be a good idea to look at the data and see what customers have watched most often. Whether you’re looking for a new flick to take in or use this information to your advantage elsewhere, this group of sports movies serves as a baseline for what Netflix customers are most frequently streaming nowadays.
Happy Gilmore (1996)
Talk about an oldie but goodie.
Starring Adam Sandler, Happy Gilmore follows a hockey-obsessed fan who has been trying to make a semi-pro team for years. After failing time after time, he finds that he has a highly sought after golf skill, as a power swinger who can drive the ball up to 500-plus yards in a single stroke.
Though the protagonist, aptly named Happy Gilmore, resists the offer to participate in an amateur tournament that awards the winner a chance to join the PGA, his grandmother’s financial struggles prompt him to reconsider.
Here’s the thing: Happy Gilmore can’t putt, and he turns into a foul-mouthed miscreant whenever something goes wrong. This is not behavior the PGA Tour is used to, and much to their chagrin, he (just barely) wins the amateur qualifying tournament and joins the world’s most prestigious golf league.
Hilarity ensues from there. And we won’t give away anything else.
Any Given Sunday (1999)
What we can say is that this movie has proven to be exceptionally popular among millennials and also Gen Zers, the latter of whom are discovering it for the first time.
With yet another movie from the 1990s making this three-title cut, it’s clearly been a banner year for nostalgia.
Any Given Sunday, starring Al Pacino, is a story that evokes emotion from the audience by combining redemption, underappreciation, human imperfection and, yes, timely comedic relief. It follows an aging football coach struggling to balance his personal and professional life, a battle that gets even harder when his star quarterback gets knocked out of fame.
From there, the movie follows the coach’ struggle to integrate his star QB’s replacement, as well as his unending battle with the team owner’s daughter and her preference to relocate the franchise to a different state for financial gain.
If you can stomach some adult language and subject matter, this is a flick the entire family can appreciate—even if you aren’t actually sports fans.
Oh, look. Another Adam Sandler movie.
It should come as no surprise that Sandler has two of Netflix’s top three sports movies for the year. He signed a deal with the company back in 2020 that called for him to produce and star in four more movies while also giving the streaming service the rights to offer some of his previous films.
Hustle is the latest project between Sandler and Netflix, making it an original film. It follows Sandler, who plays a travelling scout for the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, and his quest to spend less time away from his family by becoming an assistant coach for the organization. When the primary owner of the team dies, his career trajectory is derailed and he’s forced to go back out on the road. His only way to land a coaching gig: find the next big-time NBA prospect.
This leads Sandler to Bo Cruz, who’s played by an actual NBA player in Juan Hernangomez. The movie follows the two as they try to get Cruz exposure and a realistic shot at going pro. We’ll let you find out the rest for yourself, but this film is a nice mix of funny, dramatic and heartwarming.