It’s an American love story that starts out like this: Two-time Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce invites global megastar and singer Taylor Swift to his football game to impress her.
She accepts his invitation, and chaos ensues from Swift’s fan base. Cameras flash on Swift, who sits next to Kelce’s mother in his suite at Arrowhead Stadium. All over the nation, Swifties take to the internet to share that they are tuning into the game – a Sunday afternoon activity out of the ordinary for some.
Well, it’s not just a tale. It’s happening, so to speak, in real time across the nation.
“Taylor Swift is really about to make me watch a Chiefs game, isn’t she. iykyk” wrote Bethany Pendleton, a Swiftie who lives in Maine, in a TikTok video Sunday. (“iykyk” translates to “If you know, you know.”)
Taylor Swift’s appearance and Kelce’s invitation may have aided in solving a long-running challenge for the National Football League: attracting Americans from Generation Z, including young American women and girls, to the franchise.
Swift’s mammoth fan base, primarily made up of millennial women according to Forbes, immediately turned to their screens to watch the Chiefs-Bears game on Sept. 24. Their viewership made the game the most-watched NFL broadcast of the week with 24.3 million viewers. It was the highest-rated game of the week for women between the ages of 12 to 49, according to FOX Sports.
And the game resonated especially with young women. It ranked first in women aged 12-17, 18-34 and 18-49. It was a 63% spike in women viewers aged 18-49 from the Chiefs’ previous game, according to data from Roku TV.
The renewed attention to the NFL’s growing fan base of American women and Gen Z is reinvigorating discussion around the league’s complicated relationship with those groups. In recent years, the franchise has faced numerous scandals involving mistreatment of women within the league and from its players. And Gen Z audiences aren’t consuming entertainment in the same ways as older generations of football fans, making them harder for the league to reach.
On Sunday, the franchise took advantage of the frenzy, changing its social media channel descriptions to “NFL (Taylor’s Version).”