Is Taylor Swift about to help set a record for Super Bowl ratings and overwhelm online discussion around the “Big Game”?
Based on a research study released today by a team of faculty from the Joetta Di Bella and Fred C. Sautter III Center for Strategic Communication in the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University, the continuation of America’s most popular sport meeting the world’s most famous pop star seems destined to dominate the airwaves and social media next weekend.
“The Super Bowl always brings in a whole new audience because some people just come for the ads and halftime show while attending Super Bowl parties,” said Professor Kelly Whiteside who leads the Sports Communication program in the School of Communication and Media. “But now you are adding the biggest pop star on the planet, almost guaranteeing this will be the most watched Super Bowl of all time. It will not surprise me if the viewership record (114.12M) is broken by more than 10%.”
The study, authored by professors Yi Luo, Jin-A Choi and Bond Benton, backs the theory that a sharp increase is likely.
Data from the study includes:
- In the period when the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers advanced to Super Bowl LVIII, Taylor Swift related #superbowl posts on X (formerly known as Twitter) totaled more than the COMBINED number of posts about the game’s QB’s and even her beau, Travis Kelce. Total #superbowl posts generated in the period around and immediately after the AFC and NFC championship games resulted in 52,419 mentions for Purdy, 75,258 mentions for Mahomes, 91,325 mentions for Kelce, and an astounding 272,406 mentions of Swift in connection with the big game. For #superbowl tweets mentioning any of the four studied individuals, Swift mentions accounted for 63% of the total.
- The social mentions of Taylor Swift and Super Bowl reached 2 million in the seven-day period (January 28 – February 3, 2024) after the Chiefs’ win on January 28 and sparked an 80% surge in social mentions compared to the previous seven days. Particularly, the conversation thread of “Taylor as a national treasure” increased 100% and is still gaining strength on social mentions.
- The social discussions on Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce’s relationship surged 490% since the Chief’s AFC Championship victory on January 28. Tons of “Swiftie” fans shared their well wishes for the couple and demanded more coverage of their love story. Fans have also speculated about if/when Kelce will pop the question…perhaps after a potential Super Bowl win.
- Nearly 31,000 social posts (approximately 224% increase) in the past seven days speculated that Swift’s involvement with the Super Bowl could potentially boost ratings and interest in the event. This landslide interest in Swift’s role in the NFL made lots of social media users predict that this year’s big game will be the “highest watched Super Bowl in history.”
Data related to conspiracy theories such as Swift being an ally of the Democratic Party, that the NFL playoff games were “rigged” to favor Kelce’s Kansas City Chiefs, and that the Swift-Kelce relationship is a product of the “deep state,” are also examined in the study.
“Adding the ‘conspiracy theory’ factor to all this is like pouring gasoline on a rating’s fire that was already set to explode,” Luo said. “It will be fascinating to see how the numbers on and off the field shake out.” Choi stressed that “From deepfakes to politics, the ‘Taylor Swift effect’ is evident in our data. She holds unprecedented influence among Americans and her star power is expected to continue beyond this Super Bowl.”
The full study, which can be found here, is the 13th from the Center for Strategic Communication, which provides social media analytics tools and training for faculty and students for classroom learning and research projects.