An average of 27 million people tuned into the Kansas City Chiefs-New York Jets game — which Taylor Swift also attended — making it the most-watched Sunday TV show since the Super Bowl, according to NBC Sports.
The “Sunday Night Football” audience peaked at 29.4 million viewers between 9:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., in the second quarter of the game, according to the network.
Kansas City won, 23-20.
Compared to an average of the first three weeks of “Sunday Night Football,” the biggest demographic gains were among girls 12 to 17 (53%), women 18 to 24 (24%) and women older than 35 (34%), the network said, citing preliminary Nielsen data.
Final figures will not be available until Tuesday, a spokesperson for Nielsen said.
NBC Sports is owned by NBCUniversal, which is the parent company of NBC News.
The game surely drew eyes beyond traditional football fans once it became known that Swift, a friend and possible romantic interest of Kansas City tight end Travis Kelce, would be at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey for “Sunday Night Football.”
“The game drew added national attention due to the attendance of pop star Taylor Swift,” the network said, calling Sunday’s contest the most-watched pro football game of this season so far.
Mike Tirico, who was behind the mic calling the game, said his team in the booth was well aware of the need to acknowledge the one-woman global phenomenon during Sunday’s prime-time broadcast.
A Kansas City Chiefs fan holds up a sign Sunday before the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets in East Rutherford, N.J.Elsa / Getty Images
“It was a lot of our preparation,” he said Monday on NBC’s “Today” show.
“It was one of those you had to find the right spot, right? Because there were so many Swifties who were so engaged who probably are never with us on Sunday nights. So we figured we just kind of [had to] take care of the elephant in the room and say ‘hi’ to them at the start of the game and show her as often as we did during the game,” he said.
Even gamblers, a most unlikely source of Swifties, seemed to be in on the Traylor uptick.
Sports books every pro football weekend offer bets on the performances of individual players.
For example, DraftKings bettors on Sunday could have wagered on whether Kelce’s longest reception of the game would be more or less than 21.5 yards or whether he would score a touchdown.
- Those two Kelce offerings were the two most popular “prop” bets of the pro football weekend, DraftKings said Monday. Individual bets on Kelce on Sunday were double the total of Kelce wagers the previous three weeks combined, the Boston-based sports gaming company said.
- Similar Kelce-mania was reported by BetMGM, which took in seven times more bets tied to the tight end on Sunday compared to Kansas City’s previous game against the Chicago Bears.
- The total money bet on Sunday’s Chiefs-Jets game, via Caesars Sportsbook, was 14% more than the next most-wagered contest of the entire young season, the Nevada-based entertainment company said.
The Chiefs pay a visit to the Minnesota Vikings at 4:25 p.m. ET Sunday (3:25 p.m. in Minneapolis). It’s not known whether Swift will be at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Unlike Sunday’s Jets game, that Chiefs contest will not be on national television.
CBS viewers will be split between the Chiefs-Vikings and Denver Broncos-Jets games late Sunday afternoon. Viewers near New York City and Denver will not get the Chiefs on regular TV, as their local teams, the Jets and the Broncos, must be shown.
David K. Li
David K. Li is a senior breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital.