Taylor Swift, online gambling may make for most-watched Super Bowl ever, say Brock experts

EXPERT ADVISORY: February 6 2024 – R0016

As millions of people across North America and around the world prepare to tune in to the Super Bowl this Sunday between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, experts from Brock University say there are several factors that could make the National Football League’s (NFL) championship game more popular than ever.

Assistant Professor of Sport Management Olan Scott has his eye on the “Taylor Swift effect.”

Scott, who studies media narratives and how the media works, is exploring the impact of the pop superstar’s attendance at games throughout the season thanks to her romance with Kansas City player Travis Kelce.

“The NFL has enjoyed greater viewership during its games this season than it ever has before,” he says. “The AFC Championship game between Taylor’s Chiefs and the Baltimore Ravens was watched by over 55 million viewers in the United States.”

Scott says Swift may provide the NFL and its flagship Super Bowl with a young and fresh audience that may not normally tune in just to see her for a minute or two during the game. This, he believes, will be an exciting development not only for those watching the game.

“The advertisers who spent $7 million on a 30-second ad might be the biggest beneficiaries of the Taylor Swift effect as the typical viewership of this match will increase due to her appearance,” he says.

Also influencing the big game’s popularity is the rise in legalized sports gambling.

Associate Professor of Sport Management Michael Naraine says the Super Bowl is the most bet on sporting event in North America, and consumers will be paying as much attention to their bets throughout the game on their mobile device as they are to the action on TV.

“Despite the fact there is no NFL team in Canada, the NFL is one of the top bet-on sports, and one of the reasons why is because of the format and all the proposition bets that are available,” he says. “From the outcome of the coin flip and the length of the national anthem, to the colour of Gatorade poured over the winning coach and Usher’s first and last songs, there is a wealth of markets for sport and entertainment fans to bet on with the Super Bowl.”

Further driving viewing figures will be the action on the field, which Assistant Professor of Sport Management Ryan Clutterbuck says could be a defining moment for Kansas City.

“In terms of legacy, there are only two on-field storylines that matter. First is Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes. If he wins his third Super Bowl, he enters into truly elite company among the great NFL quarterbacks of all time,” says Clutterbuck. “The same would be true for Kansas City’s head coach, Andy Reid. Once labelled as the coach who couldn’t win the big one, Reid could — and reportedly might — retire as one of the all-time greats.”

With so many current factors driving interest in the game, Assistant Professor of Sport Management Taylor McKee says the Super Bowl has always been designed to be the dominant event in North American sports.

“The Super Bowl was conceived with television cameras in mind,” says McKee, who noted that other sporting events, such as the World Series and Grey Cup began in the days of radio while the first Super Bowl took place on television in 1967. “There is no ‘before television’ history of the Super Bowl, and for that matter, every aspect of its more contemporary iterations has slid more and more comfortably into the realm of the spectacular, untethered from any sport-specific context.”

Noting the event’s purpose-built history and the new factors influencing its popularity, McKee said the event will remain on top.

“It’s difficult to imagine decoupling the Super Bowl from its place as the pre-eminent North American sporting event precisely because it has become, or perhaps always was, a reflection of an entertainment economy that thrives on spectacle,” he says.

Brock University Associate Professor of Sport Management Michael Naraine and Assistant Professors of Sport Management Ryan Clutterbuck, Olan Scott and Taylor McKee are available for media interviews on the topic.

For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

* Doug Hunt, Communications and Media Relations Specialist, Brock University dhunt2@brocku.ca or 905-941-6209

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