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Taylor Swift's Impact on NFL Ratings: How Big Is It?

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com

Dan Kilbridge  | 5 mins

Taylor Swift's Impact on NFL Ratings: How Big Is It?

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Taylor Swift did it again, with a little help from a shirtless Jason Kelce. 

Chiefs-Bills will always be ratings gold with Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen going head-to-head, but the interest in Kansas City games continues to skyrocket with A++-lister-turned-dieheard-Chiefs-fan Taylor Swift bringing even more attention. 

Sunday’s 27-24 win for the Chiefs in Buffalo drew 50.39 million viewers – the most watched divisional round game of all time and an audience that surpassed even the last five NFC Championship games. 

The scenes were almost surreal. Swift back at her usual post to watch boyfriend and star Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, while recently-retired brother Jason Kelce pounded beers inside and hoisted children outside.

It was truly a spectacle. And there’s no telling what kind of numbers this week’s AFC Championship game will do with Swift expected to be in the house again Sunday in Baltimore. 

The ratings have been so good that other leagues have even tried to come up with their own celebrity draws – the NHL’s upcoming Stadium Series Feb. 17-18 will feature musical acts the Jonas Brothers and pop band ARP. 

With all due respect to the NHL … good luck with that. 

With all due respect to Meyers and the league … good luck with that. 

Saying you want to gain a ratings boost like the one Swift has given Kansas City Chiefs games this season is like saying your favorite baseball team should go out and get a Shohei Ohtani-type player. Those opportunities just don’t exist outside of the original. 

While the Chiefs have always been a popular watch in recent years, Swift’s relationship with Kelce and ensuing attendance at Arrowhead Stadium and several road games sent viewership through the roof. 

Unfortunately for the NFL, there probably won’t be Swift ratings bump in the 2024 Super Bowl, at least not by any tangible measure. Swift will already be overseas beginning the international leg of her record-breaking Eras Tour and won’t be in attendance at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas regardless of whether the Chiefs are playing or not. 

There is still a small possibility Swift could make it work. She has a show on the eve of the Super Bowl, Saturday, Feb. 11 in Tokyo. But with the time difference, that show will likely end around 1 p.m. ET Saturday. With a 12-hour flight, she could hypothetically make it back in time for the game before rushing off to her next scheduled show Feb. 16 in Melbourne. But that's a big detour and Swift will likely be dialed in with the international leg just getting underway.

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There’d certainly be a portion of Swifites who’d tune in just to see Kelce should Kansas City get back to the Super Bowl, but there will be no camera shots alongside Brittany Mahomes in the luxury suites. 

What kind of viewership numbers is the NFL potentially missing out on there? 

To put it all in perspective, Swift attended nine regular-season Chiefs games – six in Kansas City, one in New York, one in Green Bay and one in New England. Eight of those nine games ranked among the top 100 most-watched U.S. broadcasts of 2023, according to Nielsen. The only exception was a Week 6 home game against the Broncos that streamed exclusively on Amazon Prime. 

Swift was also in attendance for the Chiefs’ Wild Card Weekend victory over the Dolphins, which aired on Peacock and set a record for the largest-ever streaming audience at 23 million viewers. 

Her second game this season, a Sunday Night Football matchup against the Jets at Arrowhead, drew 27 million viewers, a 22% increase from the same window in 2022. 

When Swift headed to Green Bay for Week 13 game against the Packers at Lambeau Field, approximately 23.6 million viewers tuned in – a 29% increase from the same window in 2022. 

Overall, NFL games averaged 17.9 million viewers per game in 2023. Chiefs games with Swift in attendance averaged 23.2 million viewers. That’s a 29% increase that tracks with the jump in Green Bay. 

However, the Chiefs will always have better-than-average viewership numbers. That 22% increase from the Week 4 Sunday Night Football matchup against the Jets at Arrowhead is a better barometer because the Chiefs were involved in an even more-intriguing matchup against the Bucs in that same time slot in 2022. 

We’re confident then in declaring Swift’s attendance provides at least a 22% ratings increase. 

Now, about that Super Bowl. 

Last year’s matchup between the Chiefs and Eagles set a new record with 115.1 million tuning in for Kansas City’s 38-35 win. Assuming the 2024 game will do similar ratings, that means a Super Bowl with Swift in attendance could have done astronomical numbers. A 22% increase thanks to the Swift effect would put 2024 ratings at 140.4 million viewers. 

We’re confident that NFL higher-ups and CBS executives will still have jobs, and the Super Bowl will be the most-watched broadcast of 2024 regardless. But looking at the potential numbers if Swift were in the building shows just how much of an impact her relationship with Kelce has had from an economic perspective, with Swifties tuning in all season long to catch a glimpse of the megastar and maybe watch some football in the process. 

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About the Author

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com
Dan Kilbridge
Handicapper Dan Kilbridge writes about college football, MLB and other sports for Bookies.com after spending three years covering Tiger Woods’ comeback and the PGA for Golfweek.