Update to add a list of top regular events, per request: These are some of the annual tournaments that are regularly made up largely of elite players (say, from the top 10 in the world).
- London Chess Classic
- Pearl Spring Chess Tournament (Nanjing, China)
- Tal Memorial (Moscow)
- Tata Steel Chess Tournament (Wijk aan Zee, Netherlands)
Some events like this which have recently struggled to exist, but which might come back, include Linares and the Bazna Kings tournament. And the Chess Olympiad is a biennial international team competition (sort of the World Cup of chess).
I can't speak to the situation globally, but in my country (USA) there certainly isn't chess programming to be found on television. (I do recall the sports channel ESPN experimenting with broadcasts of elite blitz chess in the late 1990s, including very enthusiastic commentary by Maurice Ashley, but the experiment was short-lived. And way back during the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match, PBS covered it in a way.) Here at least, the problem is simply that the chess playing audience is way too small. Because of that, televised chess would indeed be boring to most of the population, but I don't think that the issue is with chess being inherently too boring to watch. That is, while people who already have no use for chess would find it boring, I think chess fans very often do enjoy watching live coverage of events. (So in this regard chess viewing is no different from other sports or forms of entertainment.)
This is borne out when one looks beyond television, as there is plenty of live coverage of top chess events on the internet. Some that have had particularly well-executed coverage of late:
Perhaps worth mentioning here: from 1976 to 1982, BBC2 in the UK ran a chess show called The Master Game, in which top players of the day would compete in elimination tournaments, and voice-overs were edited in later, so as to appear to give the players' thought processes as they occurred during the game. (For example, here's an episode featuring a game between Walter Browne and John Nunn. Many more of these have been uploaded to YouTube.) I for one would love to see another show done in this manner.
The most recent Botvinnik Memorial rapid tournament (involving Anand, Kramnik, Aronian, Carlsen) tried to do something like this with its live stream. They actually paused the games halfway through each round, and got the players to give their thoughts on how the games were going. That didn't seem to work as well, in my opinion, as it just seemed like an awkward pause in the action, but it was a nice idea.