The latest audience engineering trend is ‘Swift-ization’, the boosting of the Super Bowl audience by sport-adjacent love story between Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and pop superstar Taylor Swift.

AI Image: Adobe Firefly

It was no massive surprise that the Super Bowl 2024 was the most-watched telecast of all time, hitting 123.4 million viewers (Nielsen and Adobe Analytics) as well as reaching 202.4 million (Nielsen) who viewed ‘any portion’ of it.

The ‘any portion’ metric would probably count my wife’s three-second contribution at the early doors of the marathon five-hour Super Bowl UK package on Sky on Sunday.

She didn’t even wait for the answer to her own question ‘what’s this?’ before exiting  with an accented ‘tut’, I think.

Still, it was the highest number of people watching the same broadcast in the history of television – apart from the estimated 150 million who watched Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stick a U.S. flag on the moon.

The Super Bowl this year has a pop-shaped elephant in the room which is how much of that 8.4 million uplift since last year’s show could be attributed to the Swift-ization of the Super Bowl audience.

There is a fun survey from Chicago consumer research outfit Numerator, who deployed a ‘quick-pulse’ (Swift-pulse, surely) Super Bowl LVIII survey to 800 U.S. adults and asked them if they were rooting for the Kansas City Chiefs because of Taylor Swift.

One fifth of the tiny audience sample said, ‘er, yeah, I guess so, seeing as you put it like that’ which was enough for Variety magazine to lead with, ‘Super Bowl 2024: 20% of Viewers Say They Rooted for the Kansas City Chiefs Because of Taylor Swift’.

The journalist-friendly survey goes into detail about the attention span of the quizzed viewers, with 81% saying they paid attention to the game, while 19%, this would presumably be the Mrs Rees cohort, paid ‘little or no attention’.  

Quite how big the Swifties impact was on viewership of CBS’s Super Bowl LVIII telecast will continue to be moot, even after the official ratings come out.

If there is one positive audience take-away for rights owners, though perhaps not for the ad-ravaged tradition media ownership – the Super Bowl highlights how the streaming landscape can work to an event’s advantage, by not only providing the largest audience over a single network (112m CBS in this case) but also sharing the attention economy pie with a flume of streamers like Paramount+, Nickelodeon, Univision, CBS Sports and NFL+.

No data at the point of publishing for definitive streams across platforms.