Taylor Swift, a pop culture juggernaut, propels ‘Sunday Night Football’ to record ratings

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The ratings are beyond a broadcaster’s wildest dreams.

NBC’s Taylor Swift and star-studded Chiefs-Jets thriller on Monday, as the pop star’s relationship with tight end Travis Kelce blossoms in the public eye, averaged 27 million viewers, its most watched Sunday. Super Bowl premiere in February.

The broadcast, which saw a surge of more than 2 million female viewers, undoubtedly owes its record numbers to Swift, whose arrival once again created a frenzy that effectively overshadowed the sport itself.

At its peak, NBC said 29.4 million viewers watched the game on linear television and streaming platforms. According to Nielsen Fast National data, ratings were driven in part by an increase in female viewers, including a 53% increase among teenage girls. NBC leaned heavily on Swift’s appearance, undercutting her with live shots throughout the game Not less than 17 timesThat said, it’s the most streamed regular season NFL game ever.

By comparison, the 2022 World Series had less than half that audience, with 12.8 million viewers for Game 6 of the series finale. And the series-clinching game of the 2023 NBA Finals averaged 13.1 million viewers. Big numbers, no doubt, but nowhere near the extraordinary attendance at Sunday’s game in East Rutherford.

The ratings bonanza is another data point underscoring Swift’s immense entertainment power in recent years, with the pop icon’s passion for Swifties fans growing so strong they can now improvise on “Sunday Night Football.”

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The NFL, of course, is delighted with Swift’s newfound love for pigskin, which has led to a dramatic increase in merchandise sales. On one of its social media accounts, the header image was a series of photos of a candid Swift at Monday’s game. On that account, the NFL’s bio says, “Today’s a great day with you,” a clear nod to Swift’s song “Best Day.”

Swift seems to have ascended to a league of her own and no one else’s. In the summer, she became the first female artist to reach 100 million views on Spotify. His “Eras Tour” — which Ticketmaster has called before Congress — has boosted the economy (even the Federal Reserve has noticed) and could eventually generate $5 billion in consumer spending. And with his upcoming concert film set to hit theaters as a global blockbuster, analysts are a little weary of making firm predictions given his ability to consistently outperform expectations.

There are celebrities, and then there’s Swift, a modern-day King Midas who makes other high-wattage stars look small in comparison.

While Swift’s ability to bring in huge — and young — audiences is unmatched, it’s a reminder of the powerful balance of live sporting events, as a rare eight-figure audience continues to collectively ride a rollercoaster of emotions. -or-won’t-they nail-biting moments.

That unparalleled appeal is no mystery to media companies paying huge sums for years of broadcast carriage rights. But as the pay-TV landscape continues to fracture, high-priced sports rights are an increasingly rare way to amass a large audience. As the landscape shifts rapidly from linear to streaming, rights holders face a huge dilemma: pay to broadcast games and collect the advertiser pot at the end of the rainbow, or watch rivals (and Swift) have big nights. Sunday.

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