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What’s trending with the NFL this season

We are past the halfway point of the 2023 NFL season and what a roller coaster it has been! Whether you’re trying to keep up with your team’s playoff odds or you’re just trying to figure out a last minute fantasy football trade, YouTube is your destination for all this and more. Our resident culture and trends experts are breaking down the latest NFL trends to keep you entertained and informed heading into Week 13.

As we like to say, if it happens in the world, it happens on YouTube. And the same can be said for football. As the popularity of the game has continued to grow, so too has the popularity of our favorite athletes (on AND off the field). Nowadays, NFL players star in their own YouTube channels, collaborate alongside creators, guest star on hit shows and much more.

football trending

So is it any surprise that the player with the most views on YouTube (from August - October 2023) in the U.S. is Kansas City Chiefs Tight End and Mr. Charisma himself, Travis Kelce? He’s been viewed more than 163 MILLION times and is the top-viewed player in every U.S. state except for Texas (where Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott has a slight edge) and Wisconsin (where former Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers holds the top spot). Maybe it’s the fashion drip or the banter with his brother, Philadelphia Eagles Lineman Jason Kelce. Or maybe it’s the frenzy of attention from fans of a global pop star who happens to have attended multiple Chiefs games? We can only speculate. But what’s impressive is that Travis Kelce is the only tight end to break through the list of Top 20 players, with the list being dominated largely by quarterbacks who claim 13 of the top 20 spots.

Shifting gears, we also analyzed the proportion of views across every NFL team in their home state versus all other states, and the results were interesting. To break this down, let’s look at the San Francisco 49ers. While they share the state of California with the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers, the 49ers over-index in views outside their home state, meaning their popularity extends beyond the Bay Area to places like Kansas, North Dakota, Montana and even Washington.

football 49ers map

Similarly, the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks over-index in states beyond the ones they call home, proving that today’s NFL fan bases are more distributed than ever.

While big market teams with big name talent appear highly visible on YouTube, there are plenty of pockets across the U.S. where viewers over and under-index on multiple teams! So what’s that say about today’s NFL fans? Maybe they simply care more about how their cross town rivals performed or they just want the scoop on their division race, pending playoff scenarios or the latest player transactions leading up to the trade deadline. Whatever it is, their passion for the game is strong!

football maps
fantasy football 2023

The final trend worth mentioning is the prolific rise of YouTube as a destination for fantasy football fans. Naturally, when fantasy leagues are preparing to host their drafts (usually this happens in August just before the NFL season kicks off) there’s a noticeable spike (no pun intended) in views on this topic, which could be associated with people searching YouTube for mock drafts, player insights, or advice from fantasy football gurus covering everything from sleeper picks to weekly rankings by position. From 2018 to 2022, views on fantasy football-related videos during early September (which aligns with Week 1 of the NFL regular season) have climbed nearly 200%.

And because fantasy managers often have an intense interest in many players across the league (whether they’re on their team or playing against them), it means that they can’t rely on intel from YouTube only on Saturdays and Sundays, but throughout the week as well. This could correlate with NFL coaches hosting weekly press conferences to preview their upcoming matchups and share updates on key players' participation throughout the week. Or, it could be because the NFL plays games on Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, so news could break any day of the week. The NFL is offering media and fans more than just game highlights these days and YouTube is helping to drive those connections like Tua Tagovailoa hitting Tyreek Hill on a back corner fade for six!

So whether your team is in it to win it this season, or you’re just looking for something entertaining to talk about Monday morning at the office, the NFL has plenty of incredible teams and talent making waves on YouTube. So, buckle up that chin strap and head over now to find the next best thing before the referee throws a ‘delay of game’ flag!