At least for the season.
The latter would probably please Dads, Brads and Chads from around the world, who took issue with the attention paid to pop star Taylor Swift when she attends NFL games to see her boyfriend Travis Kelce in action. But the truth is this: getting into Taylor mania is a no-lose game for broadcasters. So for at least one more game, the haters may just have to, as Swift might say, focus on the players as they play, play, play.
Swift has regularly attended many recent Kansas City Chiefs football games to support Kelce, the team’s superstar tight end, and broadcasters of those games took every opportunity to show Swift in the stands, the encouraging.
Because they can. And, ultimately, the decision of how many times Swift will be shown during a game rests with that broadcaster, which includes CBS, NBC, FOX and ESPN — not the NFL, according to spokesman Alex Riethmiller of the league. .
“We wouldn’t give any direction to our broadcasters like ‘we need more Taylor Swift or we need less Taylor Swift,'” Riethmiller told CNN. “In situations like this, it’s really up to each broadcaster to determine what they think is best.”
By CNN’s count, Swift was shown during CBS’ broadcast of the Chiefs-Bills AFC divisional playoff game no fewer than six times, including a cut to the singer during pregame coverage . This is down compared to reported 17 cuts during NBC’s broadcast of an October game that it assisted to watch the Chiefs play the New York Jets.
In total, Swift has attended 11 games since September 2023, and with each appearance in the crowd, he has drawn more and more of what appears to be as much cheering and jeering as the men on the field.
Perhaps a frenzy was to be expected when the world’s biggest pop star landed an unexpected role on television’s highest-rated show. And while Swift won’t be getting an Emmy for this guest spot, there’s a winner here: football.
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Taylor Swift and Blake Lively at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey in October.
Swift’s presence at Chiefs games has undoubtedly activated an audience that wouldn’t normally tune in to a football game, including many so-called “Swifties” who watch games they expect to. that the “Anti-Hero” singer attends.
But the numbers tell us the whole story.
This past Sunday’s playoff game between the Chiefs and Bills was the most-watched divisional playoff game in history with over 50 millions viewers, according to CBS. Swift was in attendance alongside Kelce’s brother, Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce – who went viral for his shirtless celebration of Kelce’s touchdown.
The game averaged 20.2 million female viewers, or 40% of the television audience, according to Nielsen-measured statistics provided to CNN by the NFL. The increase in female viewers is up from last year’s Cowboys-49ers playoff game in the same window, where female viewers made up 38.7% of the television audience. Overall, female viewership for the 2023 regular season was up 9% from last year.
The Chiefs’ hard-fought victory edged out other playoff games that took place this past weekend. Ravens-Texans tied 32.4 thousandthson viewers on ESPN, the Buccaneers-Lions attracted 40.4 million on NBC and Peacock and the Packers-49ers tied 37.5 million on FOX.
A variety of factors could explain the record viewership surge, with the main one being the high-stakes matchup between Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who is widely considered the best in the league, and Bills quarterback Josh Allen. And, perhaps, a little Swift in the mix.
“NFL games have attracted massive audiences for a long time, so while I think it’s fair to say that Taylor Swift’s presence at games creates buzz and helps grow our audience on the edges, it’s the incredible play on the field that really catches the eye,” says Riethmiller.
It’s true that NFL games are the most-watched shows on television, with or without Swift. The 2023 regular season averaged 17.9 million viewers across television and digital, making it the highest-rated regular season since 2015, according to Nielsen data. The Chiefs-Bills playoff game alone drew nearly five times as many viewers as this year’s Golden Globe Awards, which peaked with 9.4 million viewers, where Swift, coincidentally, was also in attendance.
It’s hard to say how much Swift is responsible for the NFL’s increase in female viewership, but Richard Deitschsports reporter for The Athletic, told CNN that while last week’s game was still going to be one of the most watched of the season, “you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think about some casual sports fans, the ones who don’t do it.” I don’t watch the NFL every week, so I didn’t tune it out of curiosity about Swift.
“This has been the case in the high-profile Chiefs games. We are talking about one of the most famous people on the planet,” he added.
Gotham/GC Images/Getty Images
(L to R) Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce in New York in October.
When Swift showed up to her first Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium in September, it was a media frenzy.
At the time, the couple had not yet confirmed their romance.
As Swift attended subsequent games and made her courtship with Kelce public, some football viewers and prominent sports figures began to express their displeasure with the number of times the shows featured glimpses of Swift in the stands — including Kelce himself.
“I think it’s fun when they show who was at the game,” Kelce said in an October episode of his podcast “New Heights,” but he added, “They’re doing a little too much, that’s for sure.” »
Swift herself also had something to say about it, wondering how broadcasters even know which suite she’s in.
“There’s a camera about a half mile away, and you don’t know where it is, and you have no idea when the camera puts you on the show, so I don’t know if I’m being shown 17 once or once,” she said said in December.
Despite a notable decrease in airtime during Sunday’s AFC Divisional Playoff game, former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber still took issue with CBS’ coverage of Swift.
“The obsession gets annoying,” he said. WFAN’s “Evan and Tiki” radio show Tuesday, further attributing his dissatisfaction with the Chiefs in general to what he described as “the influence of Taylor Swift.”
On the field, in Kansas City, at least, his presence was widely praised.
“I can’t speak to the media coverage, but I can say that there is a huge interest among the fans in his presence and his presence within the team. To me, the cover just reflects the interest,” Adam Teicher, ESPN’s Kansas City Chiefs reporter told CNN. “They don’t ask me about Pat Mahomes anymore. They ask me about Taylor Swift.
William Purnell/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images
Kansas City Chiefs fans hold up a Taylor Swift sign at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City in December.
Broadcasters are used to featuring famous personalities during matches, so this is not a new phenomenon. This is particularly the case when it comes to super bowlthe pinnacle of sports and entertainment rolled into one.
If the Chiefs advance to the Super Bowl on Sunday, keep your foam fingers on. With the possibility of Swift attending the big game on February 11, it becomes a perfect storm of opportunity for CBS to show her off throughout the broadcast to probably their biggest audience of the year. (Swift must perform a “Tour of eras” concert in Tokyo on February 10 and has not said publicly whether she plans to attend or not.)
“There will certainly be discussions at a high level about how this is going to be managed. If that actually happens, they will determine what appears to be a reasonable number of shots,” Jeff Fellenzer, Professor of Professional Practice of Sport, Business and Media at USCtold CNN.
CBS did not respond to CNN’s request for an interview regarding its plans or broadcast strategy for Sunday’s game or the Super Bowl as of publication time.
What is a safe bet? The game – including Swifties or not – will have eyeballs.
“It won’t affect whether they watch next year’s Super Bowl or next season’s game. So what is the risk factor? I don’t think that’s a high number for the NFL or for CBS,” Fellenzer said.
Maybe, just maybe, everyone needs to calm down.