IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

'Sunday Night Football' scores ratings TD as Swifties tune in with Jets, Chiefs fans

Taylor Swift's mere presence at MetLife Stadium on Sunday night might have been a driving force in the game's being the season's most-watched.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce during the game against the New York Jets, in East Rutherford, N.J.
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce during the game against the New York Jets in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday. Adam Hunger / AP

An average of nearly 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 29.2 million viewers at about 9:30 p.m. ET, in the second quarter of the game, according to a network spokesperson on Tuesday.

Kansas City won, 23-20, in the game that averaged 26.7 million viewers, the NBC representative said.

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.

Sunday's game drew an average of 24.83 million viewers, which did not include Peacock and other NBC streaming platforms, a Nielsen spokesperson said Tuesday. The Chiefs and Jets drew 1.85 million digital viewers, an NBC representative said, leading to 26.7 million total viewership figure.

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,” according to a network statement.

NBC Sports said it's aired the two most watched football games of this season. The Chiefs-Jets game nearly matched the average of 26.8 million people who watched the Detroit Lions edge Kansas City on NBC in the Thursday night opener on Sept. 7, the network said.

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 that reads, "Kel-cee-eee You Belong With Mee-eee!" prior to the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
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.

Tirico said the crew had to strike a balance between mentioning Swift's presence without overdoing it.

“It was one of those you had to find the right spot, right?" he said. "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."

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.