Home Super Bowl TV records to be shattered, expert says, in part due to ‘The Swiftie Effect”
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Super Bowl TV records to be shattered, expert says, in part due to ‘The Swiftie Effect”

Crystal Graham
Taylor Swift in concert in New York
(© Brian Friedman – Shutterstock.com)

The NFL has put a renewed emphasis on introducing more women to the sport, but nothing it could have planned could have topped the impact of what is known as “The Swiftie Effect” or “The Taylor Effect.”

Millions of girls and women who are Taylor Swift fans are tuning in to watch a love story unfold before their eyes and learn a little bit about football along the way.

Taylor Swift and Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce are in a relationship, and Swift has been to 12 of his games this season.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell admitted in a news conference Monday ahead of Super Bowl LVIII that even in his wildest dreams, his team could have never written a script this good.

“Listen, there is no way that I could have scripted that one. Let’s just put it that way. She’s a remarkable performer,” Goodell said of Swift. “She’s the best of the best, and so having her come to NFL games, to have her be a part of that, is nothing but a positive.”

Goodell himself admits to his family being all in as Swifties – going to two of her concerts with his wife and girls even before Kelce was romantically linked to Swift.

“We hear the stories. We see the data. People are talking about the game that weren’t talking about the game yesterday,” Goodell said. “And whatever that reason is, I’m good with it, as long as they get exposure to our game.”

Virginia Tech professor Anthony Amey has worked as a sports director and reporter, and now teaches classes on sports media and analytics in the School of Communications.

Amey predicts that numbers for the Super Bowl on Sunday will be up – in part due to the Swifties. The current viewership record was set last year.

“With young people now, many cutting the cord, those who are Swifties, very well may be watching from a tablet in a room or at someone else’s home, perhaps and in the room with somebody else or in a coffee shop, who knows,” Amey told AFP. “But I’ll be very curious to see what kind of numbers the out-of-home adds to the broadcast. And I think in both cases, we’ll see the number from last year, 115 million viewers, I think we’ll see it shattered.”

A CBS reporter recently commented that she has had numerous fathers come to her and express that their daughters are interested in the NFL because of Swift, Amey said.

Swift’s beau and tight end for the Chiefs, Kelce, said Monday during a news conference at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas that Swift has “brought a lot of new faces to the game, and it’s been fun to experience that.

“Taylor has an unbelievable fan base that follows her and supports her throughout her life,” Kelce said. “It’s been fun to kind of gather the Swifties into Chiefs Kingdom and open them up to the football world and sports world. It’s been cool to experience that.”

Viewership numbers of the AFC Championship game with the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs averaged 55.5 million people and peaked at 64 million. Swift was in attendance and shown for a total of 44 seconds on the national broadcast.

“That was for CBS the most watched non-Super Bowl broadcast since the 1994 Winter Olympics,” Amey said. “There’s no way, shape or form that without Taylor Swift, in my opinion, that would have occurred.”

Kelce, and his brother, Jason, who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, were already successful in their own right before Swift, definitely Hall of Famers, Amey said.

“The funny part of it all is that Taylor Swift’s beau, Travis Kelce, he’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer anyway, but before they even started dating, he was already a first-ballot Hall of Famer – one of the best to ever play his position,” Amey said. “And now he is, by far, the second most popular and the second most successful person in that relationship. And the best part of that is, he’s very much aware of that and embraces that himself.”

Dating Swift has not only had positive effects on the NFL – it’s also given Kelce a boost in popularity. His “New Heights” sports podcast with his brother is ranking number one in 2023, and his social media followers are up as well. He also had a stint hosting “Saturday Night Live.”

Kelce is a better football player when Swift is at the game cheering him on. The stats back that up.

In games that Swift attended this year, Kelce had 6.7 catches per game and 78.8 receiving yards per game, including five touchdowns. In games without her there, Kelce had on average 6.0 catches per game, 50.o YPG and three touchdowns.

Swift won two Grammy awards Sunday night and announced a new album to her fans. Kelce hopes to secure his third Super Bowl victory with a win on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

“She’s unbelievable,” Kelce said Monday night after her Grammy success on Sunday night. “She’s rewriting the history books herself. I told her I’ll have to hold up my end of the bargain and come home with some hardware too.”

anthony amey virginia tech
Anthony Amey, photo courtesy Virginia Tech

The lasting impact on the NFL remains to be seen – and some of the new viewer numbers may wane if the Swift and Kelce romance comes to an end, or if Kelce retires from the NFL. His brother, Jason, is rumored to have told teammates at the close of their season he’s considering retirement.

“Travis was also asked if he had considered possibly stepping aside,” Amey said. “And all indications are he’s having too much fun with this. He enjoys the game and loves the game and is so passionate about it. I wouldn’t anticipate Travis stepping aside anytime soon.”

But, Amey, said, the exposure to the NFL for this new group of fans, regardless of the status of the Swift-Kelce romance season next season, will likely leave some fans wanting to learn more about the sport.

“One thing that the NFL is doing is it is increasing its participation with girls and flag football and with women and flag football. It’s embracing women enjoying the sport and learning more about the sport,” Amey said. “And so I think it’s very possible that the female population, girls and women, are going to maintain their interest in the sport.”

This has been the most-watched season since 2015, Amey said.

“Certainly she has had an effect,” Amey said. “The NFL doesn’t necessarily need Taylor Swift, but the NFL again will be foolish not to enjoy what Taylor Swift and her legion of followers bring.”

Amey said the Super Bowl is something he discusses in his classes, and it’s interesting to hear young people’s perspective on Swift and her impact on the game. He said almost everyone in his classes knows someone who is asking questions about football because of Swift.

“Everybody knows someone who’s been positively impacted by Taylor Swift’s presence. And certainly, again, the NFL and Kansas City Chiefs, Travis Kelce, everyone has embraced it. And I think that’s a great thing.”

Goodell agrees with Amey.

“Taylor is obviously a dynamo,” Goodell said. “Everything she touches, obviously, there are people following. And so we count ourselves fortunate, and we welcome it.”

Everyone falls in love with a television program or a certain team for some reason, Amey said.

“And for a lot of young girls and women, Taylor Swift is the reason that they are now interested in wanting to learn more about football.”

He urges his students to watch every detail of the Super Bowl – from the commercials to the halftime show – so they can discuss it in classes the following week.

“We’ll be looking for everything,” Amey said. “But that’s certainly part of the role of a journalist. It’s to observe and find out everything you see and note it and to discuss it.

“We will absolutely talk about Taylor Swift,” he said.

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Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.