She didn’t know it at 15, but today’s Queen of Pop Taylor Swift is doing just as she wrote in her 2008 song “Fifteen.” She is literally dating the boy on the football team, just as she wrote in her lyrics 15 years ago.
Swift, 34, went public this past fall as dating 34-year-old Kansas Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce after first appearing in Kelce’s box at the Sept. 24 Chiefs game.
Overnight, Kelce’s name became a household name in homes of Swift’s fans, the Swifties.
A 2023 survey from Morning Consult estimated 180 million in the U.S. considered themselves fans, including 54.4 million that considered themselves “avid fans,” members of the Swiftie army.
And overnight (she had a long night), throngs of Swift fans of all stripes and ages began tuning into football games. The intrigue wasn’t a sudden fascination with football.
That is a HUGE new market of viewers turning into football who may otherwise have little interest in touchdowns and tight ends of any variety.
Fans began watching football games for any quick peeks at Swift on the bleachers to see whom she brought to the game with her to cheer on Kelce and the Chiefs.
The ripple effect of that new interest in the game is also benefiting NFL football as an industry.
In accepting Kelce’s invitation to watch his game last September, Swift provided a boost to the sport by bringing an under-represented demographic to the game’s audience: women. SponsorPulse.com pegs the typical fans engaging on a weekly basis to males over 50, and those older men represent about 73% of the audience.
Converting at least a fraction of Swift’s estimated 180 million occasional-to-avid fan base results in a younger, female audience for the football viewership.
In some circles, Swift’s appearance at games has the increased interest in football, the Kansas Chiefs and the National Football League (NFL) is being dubbed the “(Taylor) Swift Effect.”
An estimate from Apex Marketing Group, shared with Front Office Sports, suggested that the couple’s relationship has also perked up the fortunes of the NFL as well. Apex notes this “has generated an equivalent brand value of $331.5 million for the Kansas City Chiefs and the NFL.” That estimate was *before* the Chiefs won the American Football Conference championship title Sunday, Jan. 28, securing a place in Super Bowl LVIII on Feb. 11. The league is working hard to convert the Swift-based audience to clicks, views and ultimately revenue.
The Swiftie buzz today is all about if – or how – Swift will be able to finish a concert in Tokyo that ends at 11 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10 (Tokyo) time and still get to Las Vegas for the kick off. ABC, NBC News and the Washington Post, all carried stories to answer the very question. (Spoiler: Survey suggests Swift can in fact make the trip in time.)
The Athletic’s Alex Andrejev went a step further and shared an infographic on how that could work out in an article from Monday, Jan. 29.
Super Bowl would also be Swift’s 13th game she attends, and for Swifties embedded in All Things Taylor, that’s a significant number for her. Swift was born on the 13th, writes the number on her hand before shows and in interviews credits the number with a number of her career milestones.
“Basically whenever a 13 comes up in my life, it’s a good thing,” Taylor told MTV’s Jocelyn Vena in a 2009 interview.
There’s little doubt in the minds of a true Swiftie believer that she won’t make every effort to attend. Viewership numbers are up since Swift began attending games, and StubHub cited a 175% jump in Chiefs-Jets ticket sales after Swift appeared at that first game in September.
The Swift-Kelce romance may be love, or at the very least the couple’s attempt to recreate the last great American dynasty. Either way, the NFL is a beneficiary of the attention and increased eyes all on the advertisers’ space during the games and beyond.
The effort to bring in younger women into the NFL audience isn’t a new idea. Dating back to the early 2010s, the effort began to shift apparel away from the from the simple “shrink it and pink it,” or creating women’s sizes and a pink color palette. Instead, NFL and licensed merchandise began to pursue women as customers with the “NFL Women’s Apparel, Fit For You” in the bid for both sporty and fashionable.
Fast forward to today, and most of those product lines are long gone.
Perhaps the NFL will be able to capitalize on the Swift-Kelce phenomena by doing little more than sitting back and watching the fan demographics tilt and the revenue roll in. Arguably, it didn’t hurt any that the Chief’s landed the AFC spot in the Super Bowl, either.
Time will tell if this is a forever and ever, or if it will someday become the story of a romance torn apart by fate.
Either way, Swift’s fledgling relationship with Kelce is a love story for the NFL and its advertisers.
Paul George is a staff writer and columnist for The Express. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @paulgeorgePIO.
Featured photo: Taylor Swift, Brittany Mahomes & son at Arrowhead Stadium for Chiefs vs Chargers on Oct. 22, 2023. Photo by Larry Koester.