Wednesday, September 27, 2023

TV Ratings: The Taylor Swift Effect Captured Viewers

After weeks of speculation about a connection between Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift, who broke up with the actor Joe Alwyn this year, she attended Kelce’s game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., on Sunday, watching from a luxury suite with his mother as the Chiefs trounced the Chicago Bears. Fox cameras panned to Swift’s reaction nearly every time Kelce touched the ball. The singer’s devoted swarm of fans also tuned in, with several posting on social media that they were watching football for the first time.

Swift, wearing a red-and-white outfit that matched Kansas City’s colors, was then seen leaving the stadium with Kelce.

The singer's presence at the Kansas City Chiefs' Week 3 home win against the Chicago Bears reportedly led to a significant boost in viewership, as well as merchandise sales and the social media presence of tight end Travis Kelce amid speculation of a potential relationship between the two.

Week 3’s national @NFLonFOX window also ranked first among F12-17, F18-34, F18-49 and F2+ demos this week.

A spokesperson for the sports apparel website Fanatics told the Associated Press that Kelce's jersey sales saw "a nearly 400% spike" since Swift appeared as his guest in an Arrowhead Stadium luxury box alongside his mother, Donna Kelce, on Sunday (September 24). 

Despite Kelce’s relative fame in the sports world, becoming part of the frenzied conversation around Swift’s every move is another ballgame. Kelce now has 3.2 million followers on Instagram. Swift has 273 million.

“This puts him on a completely different plane from where he was as a celebrity,” said Daniel Durbin, a professor of communication at the University of Southern California. “This is celebrity on steroids, and it has a powerful impact.”

That Kelce and Swift were in the same stadium this weekend brought together two fandoms that don’t often overlap. A spokesman for Fanatics, the NFL’s official retailer, said that sales of Kelce’s jersey had spiked by 400 percent as of Monday.

Coaches and players from across the N.F.L. also took notice.

Bill Belichick, the Patriots coach known for gruff answers to reporters’ questions, said on a radio show that “Travis Kelce’s had a lot of big catches in his career — this would be the biggest.” The star Cowboys defender Micah Parsons posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, that one woman “can change your life!!!”

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