As the digital age continues, brands are now expected to shift onto platforms that are gaining attention. TikTok is the newest application with over 1 billion users that allows for videos of all kinds to be shared. The platform has multiple options for sharing videos including different video lengths such as 15 second, 60 second or 3 minute; these videos can be shared on your page or on your story within the app. The videos are shown to users through a unique algorithm that uses a mix of hashtags and previous videos the user has watched.
So what does this mean for the NFL and teams? Well, in 2022, fitness and sports on TikTok had 57 billion views (Geyser, 2023). The NFL launched their official TikTok in 2019 and had the fastest-growing sports league account on the platform (Shorty Awards) and currently has 9.8 million followers. The account, along with NFL team accounts, have reached billions of users on the app and continue to gain more fans for the NFL.
A huge name in helping gain the NFL more fans has been Allison Kuch, whose husband Isaac Rochell, ended the 2022 season with the Las Vegas Raiders. Allison, an influencer who began posting normal content (morning vlogs, get ready with me, etc.), gained traction when she posted videos of her husband and her discussing their last name. People quickly found the joke about it being “Isaac Kuch” not “Isaac Rochell” and now she has 2.1 million followers on TikTok. Many viewers have tuned into Allison’s getting ready for a game than tuned into the actual game to support Isaac. Kuch’s fans were upset when the Cleveland Browns traded Rochell to the Las Vegas Raiders and fans were commenting on videos posted by the Browns demanding to know why Rochell was traded.
NFL teams have also joined in on the fun and have gained just as much traction. The Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions, and the Kansas City Chiefs have amassed a huge following due to the funny nature of their content. Currently, Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals is trending on TikTok (and the main reason is not his football skills) along with Jamaal Williams of the Detroit Lions for his mic’d up moments and sideline interviews. These moments are grabbing the attention of many people who are not huge football fans or fans of the specific teams.
In the time that the NFL and NFL teams have been on TikTok they have seen an increase of fans and a stronger fan connection. Having the teams and players interact with fans directly through comments and gain viewership through this. In 2020, the NFL regular-season viewership dropped to 14.9 million from 16.5 million the previous year. During this time, the NFL was also gaining momentum on TikTok which helped keep fans interested in the sport even though there were concerns with playing. Regular-season viewership jumped up to 17.1 million in 2021, which leads to the implication that viewership was directly affected by the NFL’s utilization of TikTok.