The Super Bowl Halftime Show: “Want to Play? Then Pay Up!”

There’ s reason the NFL is the most successful sports league on the planet: they never, ever leave any money on the table.  Here’s more proof.

When an act is contracted to play the halftime show at the Super Bowl, they aren’t paid.  Sure, some costs are covered but as for a performance fee, the NFL doesn’t do that.  They know that this event offers an artist worldwide attention for about fifteen minutes.  That exposure is worth something–a lot, actually–that can pay off in increased record, ticket and swag sales.  No wonder artists don’t bitch about getting a cheque.

Now the NFL wants to take things a step further.  “This exposure is so valuable, you should pay us for the privilege of playing!”

I can’t say I disagree with this, either.  A Super Bowl halftime performance is essentially a fifteen minute commercial in front of several hundred million people.  If the NFL can get away with charging $3 million-plus for a 30 second commercial, then why are they giving away prime inventory smack-dab in the middle of the game?

And artists are lining up.  Coldplay, Rihanna and Katy Perry are being considered for the gig at Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco in February .  More here.

Meanwhile, there’s now a petition to have Nickelback play the Super Bowl.  Sign here! (Thanks to Tom for the heads up.)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

6 thoughts on “The Super Bowl Halftime Show: “Want to Play? Then Pay Up!”

  • August 20, 2014 at 9:43 am
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    Last line should read: “Coldplay, Rihanna and Katy Perry are being considered for the gig at Super Bowl XLIX in Phoenix in February”.

    Reply
    • August 20, 2014 at 2:30 pm
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      I’m pretty sure Alan is right. For what ever reason, this years Super Bowl is 50, not XLIX. The NFL is apparently returning to roman numerals for SB51…err I mean XLIXI.

      Reply
      • August 23, 2014 at 10:32 pm
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        Either Coldplay, Rihanna and Katy Perry are being considered for Super Bowl XLIX in Phoenix in February 2015, or they’re being considered for Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco in February 2016, or Super Bowl LI in Houston in 2017 (or even Super Bowl LII in Minnesota in 2018).

        In addition to the very helpful use of Roman numerals, the NFL also identifies the 2015 Super Bowl as the contest that decides the winner of the 2014 season. And the 2015 season is decided in February 2016. And so on.

        My point was that other media sources have said (and quite logically) that the pay-to-play discussion applies to the act for the next upcoming Super Bowl. Thus, the last line should read: “Coldplay, Rihanna and Katy Perry are being considered for the gig at Super Bowl XLIX in Phoenix in February”. I think it would be overly ambitious planning to be booking acts for an event 18 months in the future.

        (This all makes it sounds like I care about the Super Bowl – or Coldplay, Rihanna or Katy Perry. Honestly I don’t. I just saw what I thought was a mistake and suggested a correction.)

        Reply
  • August 20, 2014 at 10:57 am
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    From an artist perspective, I’m not sure this is all that cool. I get that the exposure is great, but so is radio exposure. As a designer, I’ve been offered tons of non-paying “opportunities” to “show people my abilities”. I suppose the Superbowl is a guarantee of future earnings but the whole idea that that event doesn’t need to pay cause people will work it for free reeks

    Reply
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