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Viewership Records and Crying Swifties: Taylor Swift and the NFL’s Budding Business Relationship

  • The pop star led the NFL to its highest regular-season viewership among women since it began tracking in 2000.
  • Unsurprisingly, the Travis Kelce ‘Love Story’ impacts Swifties and their financial decisions.
Chiefs fans wave Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce cutouts at Arrowhead Stadium.
Sam Greene-USA TODAY NETWORK

Everybody knows Taylor Swift has had a massive impact on the NFL this year, and many might be wondering exactly how to measure it. Now, some of the results are in.

Swift has generated an equivalent brand value of $331.5 million for the Kansas City Chiefs and the NFL, Apex Marketing Group tells Front Office Sports. That number, calculated Jan. 22, comes from print, digital, radio, TV, highlights, and social media mentioning Swift going back to her first game on Sept. 24, then figuring out the equivalent dollar value for each instance based on reach and impact. Online news and digital content has created the most value, followed by social media, Apex president Eric Smallwood says. For reference, back in mid-October, that figure sat at $166 million, Smallwood says.

Swift’s impact, of course, goes beyond brand value. Her fans are tuning in, paying up, and latching onto the big personalities of Travis and Jason Kelce.

Despite not showing up until Week 3, she helped boost viewership, especially for young and female fans. The league clocked its highest regular-season female viewership since it began tracking in 2000, and the best regular season among 18-34-year-olds since 2019. From last year’s regular season to this year’s, male viewership increased by 6%, while female viewership rose by 9%.

While Swift isn’t the only reason people are tuning into Chiefs games, she’s helped cement them as a top TV draw. One example: Last year’s divisional win over the Jacksonville Jaguars drew an average of 34.3 million viewers. Last week’s divisional win over the Buffalo Bills set an all-time record of 50.4 million average viewers.

Naturally, women’s fan apparel has seen similar returns. Kristin Juszczyk, the wife of San Francisco 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk, who makes custom NFL apparel for celebrities, gained more than 500,000 social media followers after Swift wore her custom design to a game. Travis Kelce’s jersey sales exploded, increasing by roughly 400% after Swift’s first appearance. And a small business in Kansas City is feeling the love, too, after Swift ordered and wore their vintage Chiefs apparel.

“We’ve had hundreds of orders over the last 48 hours,” store owner Chris Harrington told Business Insider. “Sometimes our online store lights up after a Chiefs game when we win, but this is 100 times more than that, and we lost the game. It was the Taylor effect.”

Yes, Swifties Are Becoming Football Fans

Commissioner Roger Goodell said in 2020 that women make up 47% of the NFL’s fanbase, a number that has undoubtedly increased this season. But that’s not just because Swifties tune in to watch their favorite superstar get a few seconds of airtime throughout the broadcast. 

The Kelce brothers’ charisma and candidness about Swift on their New Heights podcast has provided ample lovable soundbites that translate to rooting interest.

“I decided to listen to ‘Fearless’ 15 years ago and now I’m crying over her boyfriend’s older brother crying on a bench in a football stadium,” one Swift fan posted after Jason Kelce’s last game of the season, referring to the singer’s sophomore album.

Unsurprisingly, the relationship impacts Swifties and their financial decisions a lot. Swift’s fans are about three times more likely to buy sports merchandise because of the “Love Story,” and about twice as likely to both explore sports content and tune in for games including the Super Bowl, according to a survey from Adtaxi.

A Chiefs win on Sunday would create an extra two weeks of buzz among Swifties and 92%ers (the name for New Heights fans). A Chiefs title could change the course of human history (maybe). That’s even without confirmation of Swift’s attendance: she performs in Tokyo the night before the game, but FOS crunched the numbers and found she could logistically make it in time for kickoff. Call that “Girl Math (Taylor’s Version).”

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