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The Economist's sports blog, Game Theory, uses several parameters to analyse what the game's second-most popular sport after football is. Does cricket's huge following in the subcontinent qualify it as a contender?
An alternative test would be how many people can recognise a star player. This would give the individual sports a boost, since stars like Roger Federer and Michael Schumacher have their faces adorned on billboards around the world—although I also refuse to believe there is a single person on the subcontinent who would be unable to put a name to a picture of Sachin Tendulkar (27m Google hits, pictured above). And there are probably undiscovered Amazonian tribes that could finger David Beckham (67m).