A poster for Taylor Swift's The Eras Tour movie. A poster for Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour movie.

There’s been a lot of discussion around how the NFL and its broadcast partners have handled coverage of Taylor Swift appearing at Travis Kelce’s games around discussion of a relationship between the two. That’s included even criticism from Kelce, and a statement in response from the NFL on how this “has been a pop cultural moment we’ve leaned into in real time, as it’s an intersection of sport and entertainment, and we’ve seen an incredible amount of positivity around the sport.”

On Thursday, Andrew Marchand of The New York Post broke some news on a really remarkable way the league has “leaned into” that.

Here’s more from that piece:

In the NFL’s undying quest for Taylor Swift’s heart, it asked its networks — NBC, ESPN, Fox and CBS — to show promos for her upcoming movie for free, The Post has learned.

ESPN and NBC acquiesced to the request and showed promos for Swift’s movie during the content portion of their pregame shows this past Sunday and Monday.

ESPN played the Swift movie promos for her concert during “Sunday NFL Countdown” and “Monday NFL Countdown.”

NBC’s free promo was on its pregame show, “Football Night in America,” prior to Chiefs-Jets, which Swift attended.

That’s remarkable to see. Yes, those networks’ pregame shows (NBC’s in particular, with this game being on their network) might well have discussed Swift and her upcoming Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour movie without any pressure from the NFL. But actually showing a promotion for that movie, without being paid to do so, and doing so at the request of the league? That’s a whole step further, even if it was only during lower-rated pregame shows rather than games themselves. (And it’s interesting that Fox and CBS don’t appear to have agreed to do that.)

Networks don’t usually provide free airtime for anything explicitly promotional, and it’s unclear why they did here and why the NFL wanted them to do so.

Marchand goes on to note that there was a commercial for Swift’s movie during the NBC game itself, but that one appears to have been paid. And that’s much more common and logical.

Yes, it makes full sense to promote Swift’s movie during a game she’s at, a broadcast that’s drawing extra attention because of her presence. But a league asking for, and getting, free airtime on pregame shows for a movie from someone whose connection to their league is “seemingly dating someone who plays in it” (and someone who’s even turned down requests for broadcasters to use their music) is quite the step.

And that’s well beyond what the league talked about in their statement. And that certainly won’t help dial down the conspiracy theories that this relationship is all about promotion. Or that the NFL is boosting the Chiefs.

[The New York Post]

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.