The NFL just hit an 8-year ratings high, thanks in no small part to Taylor Swift’s attendance at Kansas City Chiefs games to support boyfriend Travis Kelce.
Taylor Swift’s attendance at several Kansas City Chiefs games in support of boyfriend and tight end Travis Kelce has had a rippling effect across her fan base and that of the NFL. According to Nielsen data, an average of 17.9 million people tuned in to watch NFL games this season, a 7% increase from the year previous, and the highest regular season average since 2015.
NFL games have no problem gaining significant viewership, often dominating other programming — but this year was more significant due to the lack of new scripted television content during the actors’ and writers’ guild strikes. This, coupled with Taylor Swift’s attendance at a number of Chiefs games, which led a surge in viewership from a non-target demographic (read: Swifties), spelled gangbuster ratings for NFL-airing networks across both television and streaming.
NBC’s Sunday Night Football saw an average audience increase by 8% to 21.4 million viewers, which includes simulcasts on Peacock. Disney’s ESPN’s Monday Night Football saw a nearly 30% increase in viewership, with an average of 17.4 million — but several of those games also aired on sister network ABC, which has a larger reach than ESPN.
Amazon’s Thursday Night Football coverage saw nearly 12 million viewers, a 24% increase this season, but ratings are still noticeably lower than when the same games aired on Fox. However, Fox’s average audience for Sunday afternoon games was down 2%, with less compelling regional games in the afternoon time slots, but a 2% increase in its national game average.
CBS’ Thanksgiving coverage of the Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Commanders game brought in 41.8 million viewers as the most-watched match of the season. The network’s average audience increased by 5% to 19.3 million viewers.
The NFL’s expanded efforts on digital platforms have also helped to increase its overall viewership, with exclusive deals with Amazon’s Prime Video and NBC’s Peacock.