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How Women (and Taylor Swift) Are Changing the Big Game for the Better

The NFL Super Bowl LVIII is shaping up to be a historic event at the intersection of sportsmanship and cultural evolution. Set in Las Vegas at the Allegiant Stadium, this year is expected to rewrite history and usher in fresh audience dynamics. Zeta predicts that the viewership will surpass last year’s record of 115.1 million viewers, fueled by a surge in female engagement. Let’s dive into the key trends taking this cultural phenomenon to new heights.

Why Is Anticipation at an All-Time High?

According to Zeta’s proprietary insights, there is over three times more interest in the Big Game this year than in 2023. This comes as the NFL has been basking in a wave of increasing popularity in recent months.

During the regular season, NFL games consistently drew an average of 17.9 million viewers, marking a 7% increase from the previous year. Notably, female viewership in the critical 12-17 demographic witnessed an impressive uptick of 8.1%.

So, what’s fueling this remarkable trend? Let’s delve into the top factors driving this surge in female viewership.

1. The Taylor Swift Effect

Multi-hyphenate Taylor Swift, known for her chart-topping hits and huge personality, has had a transformative impact on NFL viewership. As TIME’s Person of the Year, Taylor Swift’s influence extends well beyond music. She boosted the U.S. economy by $4.6 billion with her Eras Tour, and now she’s doing the same for football.

Taylor regularly attends games to support boyfriend Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs, which has sparked widespread media attention. Many “Swifties” who were not previously football fans have now become avid viewers, and it can’t be a coincidence that the league has been posting its highest ratings since 2015. In fact, CBS News recently called Taylor “the greatest ad for the Super Bowl in NFL history.”

Taylor is expected to attend the Big Game to support her partner as the Kansas City Chiefs face the San Francisco 49ers. By leveraging “Swiftmania”, the NFL can capture a broader audience, marking a significant shift in the event’s cultural impact and audience diversity.

2. The NFL Is Making Strides in Gender Equality

The NFL has been at the forefront of gender equality within the sports industry. In 2023, the league had the most women in on-field assistant coaching roles of any men’s sport, demonstrating the NFL’s commitment to diversity and providing opportunities for women.

This is reflected in the sport’s fanbase. Approximately 46% of NFL fans are women and girls, and, among girls aged 8 and above, a remarkable 56% are fans of the NFL. In fact, Zeta has seen a significant increase in female viewership for the NFL in 2024 that rivals the number of men that are watching the sport.

3. Female-Friendly Advertising 

Zeta Data tells us there is a 5X increase in commercial interests during Super Bowl LVIII, with a substantial rise in advertising geared toward female viewers. Cosmetics brands NYX and ELF have secured commercial spots for the event, capitalizing on the expanding female audience.

NYX’s commercial revolves around female empowerment within the traditionally male-dominated football industry. E.L.F Cosmetics, after a wildly successful campaign in 2023, is running a 30-second ad showcasing its best-selling foundation.

The presence of these female-focused spots adds another layer of excitement and inclusivity to the 2024 Big Game, catering to a diverse and engaged audience. All signs point to a new era for female audiences in NFL advertising.

4. The “Mr. Irrelevant” Phenomenon

Brock Purdy’s journey is the classic underdog story. He was skipped over by the major college football programs before being chosen last in the 2022 NFL draft, earning the title “Mr Irrelevant.”

Now, in his second year as a starter, he’s quarterbacking the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl, reminding us all that in the world of sports, unexpected heroes can emerge from the most unlikely places. Fans are loving it, and someone has even placed a $200,000 bet on Brock Purdy to win.

More Trends Around the Big Game

Let’s explore some more key insights, brought to you by exclusive data from Zeta.

Increase in Sports Betting

Zeta data shows a 615% surge in sports betting activity in January 2024, highlighting the anticipation for Super Bowl LVIII. The growing interest in sports betting demonstrates how the event has evolved into more than just a football game; it’s a major betting spectacle that captures the attention of enthusiasts and casual viewers alike.

Halftime Show Hype

The Super Bowl halftime show headlined by Usher has generated excitement levels similar to last year’s anticipation for Rihanna’s performance. As one of the most-watched musical events globally, the halftime show continues to be a major draw for viewers.

Zeta data shows that a quarter of all viewers are interested in the halftime performance, and women are more interested in the halftime performance than men.

Big Game Commercials

From humor to heartwarming stories, the commercials have become inextricably linked to the event. According to our data, Super Bowl LVIII commercials have attracted over five times more interest in 2024 than they did in 2023. This is good news for advertisers who pay up to $7 million for 30 seconds of airtime. Ad inventory was sold out by early November, showing how advertisers wasted little time securing their airtime.

The Final Countdown

As Swifties and football fans alike count down the days, Super Bowl LVIII promises to be an unforgettable experience.

Interested in more insights like the ones in this article? Zeta taps into 1T+ content consumption signals per month to help brands understand what people care about and how to engage with their audiences. Learn more about Zeta and our solutions here.

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