Is Taylor Swift Actually Increasing N.F.L. Ratings?

Ever since Taylor Swift started dating the Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce, she has elevated him into a new tier of celebrity.

But is she making football more popular?

Headlines all season have suggested she’s boosting N.F.L. ratings. The league said that regular-season viewership was up 7 percent from last season, according to Nielsen data. Two of the four highest-rated “Sunday Night Football” games this season were attended by Swift.

Just because we could, we did a little digging (OK, maybe too much digging) into just how real the “Swift effect” is. We found that the answer, like dating as a celebrity, is complicated.

Method 1: Any Given Sunday

The first thing to know: When a game airs may have the biggest influence on ratings.

Swift’s first time in the Kelce suite was on a Sunday afternoon, so we started by looking at Sunday games in the traditional early and late time slots. The data, Nielsen viewer estimates, comes by way of Sports Media Watch. Swift has been to a dozen Chiefs games so far, and five were regular-season games on Sunday afternoon Eastern time.

To be clear, these are Nielsen viewership estimates for the networks at those times, not viewers for specific games.

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