Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. Sign up for our daily digest chronicling the evolving media landscape here.
Ratings are one of a broadcaster’s wildest dreams.
The “Chiefs-Jets” thriller, which featured Taylor Swift and a star-studded cast as the pop star’s relationship with Travis Kelce blossoms in the public eye, averaged 27 million viewers, NBC said Monday. , making it the most watched on Sunday. Appearing since the Super Bowl in February.
The stream, which saw a spike of more than 2 million female viewers, undoubtedly owes its record numbers to Swift, whose presence once again generated a wave of hype that effectively overshadowed the game itself.
At its peak, NBC said 29.4 million viewers were watching the game across television and streaming platforms. Ratings were supported in part by higher viewership among females, including a 53% increase among teen girls, according to Nielsen Fast National data. NBC, which leaned heavily on Swift’s appearance and cut her live footage throughout the game At least 17 timessaid it was the most broadcast regular season NFL game ever.
By comparison, the 2022 World Series captured less than half the audience, with 12.8 million viewers in the final sixth game of the series. The 2023 NBA Finals series-clinching game attracted an average of 13.1 million viewers. Big numbers, no doubt, but nowhere near the extraordinary viewership for Sunday’s game in East Rutherford.
The ratings boom is another data point that underscores the entertainment juggernaut Swift has become in recent years, with the pop icon’s Swifties fanbase growing so large that she’s now able to outshine “Sunday Night Football.”
Naturally, the NFL is enjoying Swift’s newfound love for pigskin, which has also led to a significant increase in merchandise sales. On one social media account, the main image Monday was a series of photographs of Swift in action. On that account, the NFL’s bio reads: “We had the best day with you today,” an apparent reference to Swift’s song, “Best Day.”
It seems that Swift has ascended to a level of her own, and is no longer like anyone else. Over the summer, she became the first artist to amass 100 million listeners on Spotify. Its “Eras Round” — which necessitated a Ticketmaster subpoena before Congress — has boosted the economy (even the Fed has taken notice) and could eventually generate $5 billion in consumer spending. Her upcoming musical is set to be a global hit in cinemas, and even analysts are a bit weary of making fixed predictions given her ability to consistently exceed expectations.
There are celebrities, and then there is Swift, the modern-day King Midas who makes other high-wattage stars look small by comparison.
And while Swift’s ability to attract a large — and young — audience is unparalleled, it’s also a reminder of the powerful pull of live sporting events where rare eight-figure audiences tune in to ride a rollercoaster of emotions collectively at will. -or-won’t-they are nail-biting moments.
This unparalleled draw is no mystery to the media giants who have been paying huge sums for broadcast rights for several years. But as the pay-TV landscape continues to deteriorate, high-priced sports rights have become an increasingly rare way to amass a huge audience. As the landscape continues to rapidly shift from streaming to streaming, rights holders face a major dilemma: pay to stream the games and collect advertiser money at the end of the rainbow, or watch competitors (and Swift) celebrate big nights like Sunday.
“Communicator. Music aficionado. Certified bacon trailblazer. Travel advocate. Subtly charming social media fanatic.”