Birmingham is unique in its love for college football, as college football fandom outpaces interest in the NFL or even love for Taylor Swift. And that is not normal.
“Here in Birmingham, we have a unique level of passion for college football compared to anywhere else in the country,” said Darin White, executive director of the Center for Sports Analytics at Samford University. “If you look at TV viewership data, most years, Birmingham is the only city where the college football national championship game does better than the Super Bowl.”
Birmingham stands apart in its college football obsession, according to new research from the Center for Sports Analytics at Samford. The center analyzed data from social media accounts from marketing firm Zoomph about the popularity of college football versus Swift.
White said that Birmingham on one measure seemed like other cities, as Taylor Swift’s popularity outpaced the NFL’s. But Birmingham is the only metro area where college football outpaced them both.
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The data analyzed social media content for people living in more than 230 metro areas, and measured popularity on a scale from 1 to 10, White said.
For the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, the win was their third Super Bowl title in five years. For fans of Taylor Swift, tuning into the game was a chance to catch glimpses of the musician and pop star in a private suite at Allegiant Stadium and “root for Taylor’s boyfriend’s team.”
That trend isn’t an outlier. A staggering 20% of Super Bowl viewers this year said they were rooting for the Chiefs because of Swift’s relationship with Kelce, according to a flash survey by consumer research firm Numerator.
And while Swift finishes second to the Tide in Birmingham, even in Alabama she is helping bring eyes to the NFL. The data shows that in Birmingham, Swift is more popular than the NFL, by far. It’s a closer margin for other cities like Dallas. Even still, in some metro areas with NFL teams, such as New Orleans and Atlanta, Swift’s popularity still exceeds the NFL, per the data.
Even the NFL seemed to acknowledge Swift’s swelling popularity. “The Super Bowl smooch hits different,” the official NFL account on X, formerly known as Twitter, posted Sunday night following the big game.