Taylor Swift watching Travis Kelce at Super Bowl 58 was worth millions to the NFL (2024)

Jim SergentUSA TODAY

Dozens of advertisers spent millions of dollars to get our attention Sunday night during Super Bowl 58 in Las Vegas. In the end, State Farm's “Like A Good Neighbaaa” won the battle and USA TODAY's Ad Meter.

Still, the biggest winner of the evening's branding game might be the NFL. It gained $9.6 million in free publicity, or earned media, throughout Super Bowl Sunday because of Taylor Swift effect, according to an exclusive analysis from AdVenture Media, a performance media agency.

Throughout the day, people viewed items mentioning the pop star and the NFL, Travis Kelce, the Chiefs or the Super Bowl. AdVenture Media says those combined mentions amounted more than 488 million views.

USA TODAY's Ad Meter: Watch the best of Sunday night's commercials and how they scored with readers

How much money Taylor Swift brought to the NFL

Some of the Sunday's best ads might cost more than $13 million to produce and air during the Super Bowl. For all that money, top Ad Meter commercials can expect to generate 120 million impressions during the game, estimates Isaac Rudansky, founder and CMO of AdVenture Media.

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"With nearly 450 million impressions, the Swift-Kelce narrative has catapulted NFL viewership and interest to stratospheric levels, far beyond the reach of conventional advertising," Rudansky said in an email Monday.

Even USA TODAY's own coverage felt the Taylor Swift effect on Sunday. Super Bowl coverage was hugely popular with USA TODAY's readers. But no stories came close in readership than Swift and Kelce's post-game kiss after the Chiefs won in overtime or Kelce's sideline outburst during the game.

Perhaps none of this is unexpected.

Shortly after the Chiefs claimed their fourth AFC championship in five years, interest in all things Super Bowl vaulted over last year's numbers, according to data collected by Zeta Global (ZETA), an AI-powered marketing cloud.

Americans' interest in Super Bowl 58 spikes

Zeta Global monitors trillions of bits of information created by U.S. consumers daily to uncover trends. They found Americans' interest in the game was up 169% over last year, while interest in the game's commercials jumped 903% over February 2023.

“You’re seeing a massive indication of people who are interested in the commercials,” said Zeta Global CEO David Steinberg. “I surmise a big chunk of that is women.”

Will Super Bowl 58 be the most-watched ever?

Zeta Global CEO David Steinberg speculated that all the added interest could translate into the highest viewership ever for Sunday's game. Last year's 113.7 million TV viewers were second only to the 114.4 million in 2015, according to superbowl-ads.com.

Swift likely brought a legion of new or more-interested viewers to this year's broadcast. Viewership for all NFL games jumped 7% this season, Nielsen reported. A key part of that increase: Viewership among 12- to 17-year-old girls rose 8.1%.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has welcomed the new fans drawn in by Swift and Kelce's relationship.

"(Swift) knows great entertainment, and I think that’s why she loves NFL football," Goodell said last week in his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference. "I think it’s great to have her a part of it. Obviously, it creates a buzz. It creates another group of young fans, particularly young women.”

The Taylor Swift effect on sales of NFL products

The potential boost to the NFL's and its advertisers' bottom lines probably doesn't hurt either.

Even before the Chiefs started the season, Swifties were starting to load up on the team's gear, tickets and NFL Plus subscriptions, according to Sports Innovation Lab research. Among their findings of more than 90,000 Swift fan's purchases:

In August when Swift and Kelce were first linked, Swift fans tripled their Chiefs-related purchases.

Swift's first appearance at a Chiefs game in September coincided with record single-day transactions by all NFL fans. Sports Innovation Lab combined everything from NFL Shop purchases to Sunday Ticket subscriptions to Super Bowl purchases.

CBS reported the Chiefs' upset of the Ravens was the most-watched in AFC Championship game in its history, averaging just under 55.5 million viewers at the start of the game. Kelce and Swift sealed the victory with a kiss seen throughout social media.

"(Swift) is aspirational for most girls," Steinberg said. "They're major fans of hers. And that's translating to a massive halo effect – not just for the Super Bowl, not just for viewership of the Super Bowl, but for the ads that are running in the Super Bowl."

Two of the brands that primarily courted women Sunday

Among the usual mix of Budweiser clydesdales, E-trade babies and various snacks, were two ads clearly focused on female consumers: Dove and e.l.f. Cosmetics. Dove's "Hard Knocks" commercial finished sixth in USA TODAY's Ad Meter.

Of course, women's interest in the NFL and the Super Bowl has been more of a multi-decade evolution rather than a Taylor Swift revolution. Still, Swift may be driving more women to watch.

“For the first time in history, you’re at almost 50% female viewership,” Steinberg said. He says the growth in female viewership can be traced back through rise in must-see advertising through NFL's greater emphasis on halftime shows.

How many pennies advertisers spent to reach Super Bowl viewers

The average cost of a 30-second spot was $7 million for the past two Super Bowls. With 113.4 million TV viewers last year, that worked out to about 6 cents per viewer. By comparison, 18.8 million watched the Oscars last year where ads cost between $1.6 million and $2.1 million, or 10 to 12 cents per viewer.

Should Sunday's viewership top 118 million, the cost of an ad will tick just under 6 cents per viewer for the first time since 2016 when 30-second ads averaged an inflation-adjusted $6.2 million.

Taylor Swift watching Travis Kelce at Super Bowl 58 was worth millions to the NFL (2024)
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