The NFL couldn't have planned it better if it had tried — not that we're suggesting it would. But after several tumultuous years, marked by press cycles focused on racism, police brutality, protests, sexual assault, domestic violence, unstable ratings, culture war shenanigans, and the small fact that the game itself is destroying everyone's brains For those who play it, the National Football League enjoyed a 2023-2024 season in which the main storyline seemed to be his mere proximity to Taylor Swift, compared to his relationship with Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce.

Even before the couple went public last fall, Swift was in the midst of an all-consuming media glut not seen since her days. 1989Kim and Kanye, and Reputation. Add the Super Bowl champions' superstar tight end to a cultural stew that already includes Midnight“Anti-Hero,” the Eras Tour, the end of a six-year relationship and a summer of amateur photos at Casa Cipriani with an alt-rocker famous for not knowing when to shut up, and you get the kind of cosmic gumbo that could bring tears of joy to the most hardened army of dejected public relations specialists and marketing professionals.

Swift has been present at most of the Chiefs' games this season and their playoffs, a regularly recurring gift for the NFL and its camera crews that may have led to some consternation and complaints – but hey, all press is good press (though in True, as the NFL knows all too well, this is not always true). That it all culminated in the Chiefs' second straight Super Bowl victory, a sip of beer from a Jumbotron, and an on-field kiss between Kelce and Swift — really, you can't make this stuff up.

So, to mark the end of the first season of TS X TK X NFL, we did our best to collect and analyze the numbers in an effort to capture this collision of some of America's most powerful cultural institutions. This isn't necessarily an attempt to quantify the “Taylor Swift effect” in the NFL because tough answers are, honestly, a little boring. The real “answer,” such as it is, lies in the question itself, in the ineffable nature of the celebrity (or something like it). So play “Electric Sensation” by MGMT and let's take a look at the last five months of insanity in which we as a culture have devoured anything and everything Swift-Kelce-NFL related like a “squirrel” breaking a “piece of bread”.

NFL TV ratings increase thanks to Taylor Swift: This one is actually kind of hard to measure. After Swift began appearing in games in late September, there were reports of overall rating boosts, especially among women in the 12-17 and 18-49 demographics. NBC said this grossed 27 million viewers – including an additional 2 million female viewers – when the Chiefs played the New York Jets on October 1, 2023, with Swift in attendance, making it the NFL's second most popular Sunday broadcast since the previous Super Bowl.

Recently, however, the (non-pejorative) data nerds in The New York Times did their due diligence to determine whether Swift had made NFL games, or even just Chiefs games, more popular. The results were mixed, with the writers deciding, “Certainly some Swift fans tuned in, but it's not obvious that they affected the NFL's already enormous popularity.”

Travis Kelce shirt sales: After Swift attended her first Chiefs game on September 24, the NFL's official e-commerce partner Fanatics revealed that Kelce jerseys saw a 400% increase in sales. A few months later, Kelce and his brother, the now retired Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce, noted in your podcast that they have become the number one and number two best selling NFL jerseys in the UK. More up-to-date data on shirts is not readily available, although a PR firm sent me a large number of emails regarding search data (more on this later) claims that Google searches for “Travis Kelce shirt” rose 2,252% after last night's Super Bowl victory.

Ticket sales: Again, somewhat vague, although marketplaces like StubHub reported that sales for Chiefs home games increased 235% after Swift attended his first game.

Number of Chiefs games attended by Taylor Swift:13 (again – you really can't make this stuff up). Swift attended nine regular season games and four playoff games, including the Super Bowl.

Kansas City Chiefs record for games featuring Taylor Swift: 10 wins, three losses.

Famous friends brought into the games: 15 — Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, Hugh Jackman, Sophie Turner, Sabrina Carpenter, Alana Haim, Ice Spice, RiotUSA, Ashley Avignone, Miles Teller, Keleigh Sperry, Antoni Porowski, Cara Delevingne, Shawn Levy and Lana Del Rey.

Taylor Swift's total screen time during Super Bowl LVIII: 55 seconds (per USA today).

Estimated average screen time Taylor Swift received at NFL games she attended: About 25 seconds (per The New York Times).

Non-football thing that received the second most screen time, after Taylor Swift (44 seconds), during the Chiefs' AFC Championship game against the Baltimore Ravens: People making, serving and eating crab cakes (27 seconds, via dedicated man with stopwatch, Jason Pauley)

Awards show monologue jokes made about NFL camera crews always cutting to Taylor Swift at Chiefs games: Two, one bad (Jo Koy at the Golden Globes), one kind of good (Trevor Noah at the Grammys; even Swift was laughing).

Changes to the song lyrics: One. While performing in Argentina — with Kelce in attendance thanks to a well-timed bye week — Swift changed the lyrics to “Karma,” singing “Karma is the Chiefs guy, coming straight home to me.”

Peak billboard vinyl album chart position for A Special Christmas in Philadelphiaa charity album containing Travis and Jason Kelce's Philadelphia-specific version of the Pogues' “Fairytale of New York”: Number Two (for the deluxe edition) and Number Three (for the 2023 edition). At number one, you guessed it, 1989 (Taylor version).

Value in dollars offered by Machine Gun Kelly to move Kelce from the Chiefs to the Cleveland Browns: $500,000 (seems kind of low, to be honest).

Times NFL commentator Tony Romo accidentally mentioned to Swift as Kelce’s “wife”: One.

Emails I received about “skyrocketing” search data regarding Taylor Swift, Travis Kelce and/or the NFL: My poor inbox.

Crazy right-wing conspiracies involving Swift, Kelce, NFL “writers” and the 2024 election: Yes yes.

Estimated CO2 emissions from a private jet belonging to Taylor Swift as she traveled between Chiefs games, Eras Tour dates and other commitments: 138 tons of CO2 over a period of three months – supposedly!!!


Posts on tagged with Travis Kelce published before September 24, 2023: Three.

Posts on tagged with Travis Kelce published after September 24, 2023: 60 (including this one).