The ratings are out of a broadcaster’s wildest dreams. NBC said on Monday that the Chiefs-Jets thriller attended by Taylor Swift and a star-studded crew, as the pop star’s relationship with tight end Travis Kelce blossoms in public view, averaged a staggering 27 million viewers, making it the most-watched Sunday show since the Super Bowl in February. The broadcast, which saw a surge of more than 2 million female viewers, unquestionably owes its record numbers to Swift, whose attendance yet again generated a frenzy of buzz that effectively overshadowed the game itself. At its peak, NBC said that a whopping 29.4 million viewers were watching the game across linear television and streaming platforms. The ratings were partly powered by a spike in female viewership, including a 53% surge among teenaged girls, according to Nielsen Fast National data. NBC, which leaned heavily into Swift’s appearance and cut away to her with live shots throughout the game no less than 17 times, said it was its most-streamed regular-season NFL game ever. By comparison, the 2022 World Series commanded less than half the audience, with 12.8 million viewers in the final Game 6 of the series. And the series-clinching game of the 2023 NBA Finals brought in an average of 13.1 million viewers. Big numbers, no doubt, but nowhere near the extraordinary viewership of Sunday’s game in East Rutherford. The ratings bonanza is yet another data point that underscores the tremendous entertainment force Swift has become in recent years, with the pop icon’s fandom of Swifties having grown so mighty they are now able to upstage “Sunday Night Football.” The NFL, of course, is reveling in Swift’s newfound love for the pigskin, which has also led to a dramatic increase in merchandise sales. On one of its social media accounts, the header image Monday was a series of photographs of an expressive Swift at the game. On that account, the NFL’s bio read, “We had the best day with you today,” a clear nod to Swift’s song, “The Best Day.” Swift seems to have ascended into a league of her own, a peer to no one. Over the summer, she became the first female artist to amass 100 million listeners on Spotify. Her “Eras Tour” — which got Ticketmaster summoned before Congress — has boosted the economy (even the Federal Reserve has taken notice) and could ultimately generate $5 billion in consumer spending. And her forthcoming concert film is set to be a global blockbuster for movie theaters, with analysts even a bit weary to make firm projections given her ability to consistently outperform expectations. There are celebrities, and then there is Swift, a modern day King Midas who makes other high-wattage stars look small by comparison. And while Swift’s ability to bring a massive — and young — audience is unmatched, it is also a reminder of the powerful draw of live sporting events as rare eight-figure audiences continue to tune in to collectively ride a rollercoaster of emotions with will-they-or-won’t-they nail-biting moments. That unparalleled draw is no mystery to the media giants paying massive sums for multi-year broadcast carriage rights. But as the pay-TV landscape continues to fracture, high-priced sports rights are an increasingly scarce way to assemble a huge audience. And as the landscape continues to rapidly shift from linear to streaming, rights holders are facing a major dilemma: pay up to air the games and collect the advertiser pot at the end of the rainbow, or watch competitors (and Swift) celebrate big nights like Sunday.