Taylor Swift at the Chiefs' Christmas Day game. Dec 25, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Entertainer Taylor Swift cheers during the first half of the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Las Vegas Raiders at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

There’s been plenty of new interest in the Kansas City Chiefs from Taylor Swift fans since the music megastar started dating Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce. That’s often included lots of claims that various numbers around Kelce and the Chiefs are connected to various Swift-associated numbers.

Well, the most blatant link to Swift numerology in a while came from the Chiefs’ 20-14 loss to the Raiders Monday. That game featured lots of shots of Swift, including one of her looking sad at the end that went viral. And the overall drew the NFL’s best Christmas rating on any network since 1989, the title of Swift’s fifth album:

Obviously, the Nielsen rating for a particular game is not part of a Taylor Swift conspiracy. And there are plenty of factors for the number here, including the Chiefs’ success the past few seasons and their play this year (they were 9-5 heading into this contest), the Raiders’ surprising upset (they were 7-7 before this game), the game being close throughout, and the alternate broadcast on Nickelodeon (part of a larger plan of alternate broadcasts there, and a useful alternative for some who don’t currently have CBS thanks to a DirecTV/Tegna dispute). But Swift being there, and the booth, production truck, and social media attention that drew, certainly didn’t hurt.

The larger note here may be about the tremendous Christmas Day success the NFL found, though. The league has played 30 games there over the years, but not consistently. The first two games there were playoff games in 1971 when the league held a shortened season; those drew even bigger ratings than this but took a lot of criticism, leading to no further games being played there until 1989.

Since 1989, though, the league has been amping up their Christmas Day presence. And they’ve really been doing so in recent years, and have seen ratings benefits from that. When Christmas Day fell on a Saturday, Sunday, or Monday (and even a Friday in one case), they played one game there from 1989-2011, then two games there beginning in 2016. Last year marked the first Christmas Day tripleheader, and that saw solid ratings as well.

And now this year’s Christmas ratings look to be even better. And they’re great for networks, too, as the note above about this being the most-watched Christmas Day programming ever on CBS indicates. (Of course, it’s also notable that part of this comes from out-of-home viewing. That’s especially important at large gathering times like Christmas, and it has only been in full effect for the last few years.)

Next year’s Christmas Day will fall on a Wednesday, so past patterns would suggest the NFL will not play then. They did not play on the last Christmas on a Wednesday in 2019. But you never know; the league has certainly shifted its schedule around at times in the past, and strong ratings here may tempt them to do more still with Christmas. At the very least, they’ll likely be back to Christmas Day action in the near future, whether on Thursday in 2025, Friday in 2026, or Saturday in 2027.

[CBS Sports PR on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.