Apple Music will take over as the sponsor of the NFL’s Super Bowl halftime show, replacing Pepsi as the key backer of the annual spectacle that typically draws one of the biggest single TV audiences of the year.
“Music and sports hold a special place in our hearts, so we’re very excited Apple Music will be part of music and football’s biggest stage,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats, in a prepared statement. “We’re looking forward to even more epic performances next year and beyond with the Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show.”
Apple has in recent months shown a greater interest in sports. Its streaming platform has struck deals with Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer to show games to subscribers. Sports rights have long been the province of traditional media companies like Fox, Disney, Paramount Global and NBCUniversal, but technology companies like Apple and Amazon have made a bigger play for those rights as they seek to lure consumers to their new broadband subscription-video services. Amazon, for its part, is now a major NFL partner thanks to its control of rights to “Thursday Night Football.”
The first Super Bowl with Apple as the halftime sponsor will take place on Sunday, February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. Apple Music expects in coming months to offer sneak peeks of its ideas via its social handle, @AppleMusic, on TikTok, Instagram and Twitter.
“We couldn’t think of a more appropriate partner for the world’s most-watched musical performance than Apple Music, a service that entertains, inspires, and motivates millions of people around the world through the intersection of music and technology,” said Nana-Yaw Asamoah, senior vice president of partner strategy for the NFL, in a statement.
The league said more than 120 million viewers watched the halftime show that accompanied Super Bowl LVI. The extravaganza featured Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar, marking the first time these five artists performed together on stage. Under Pepsi, other halftime performances have included The Weeknd, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Bruno Mars.
But Pepsi said in May that it would not return as the halftime show’s sponsor in 2022, choosing to walk away from a decade-long association that moved the event away from a roster of primarily rock musicians like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in favor of a new group of artists who are favored by the younger generations that advertisers and the NFL seek to court. The NFL was said to be seeking significantly higher annual payments for the sponsorship rights.
For years, each halftime show was treated largely one-off event, with a new sponsor coming in each year. Coca-Cola and Oscar Mayer were among the program’s earliest backers. In 2000, online broker E-Trade kicked off a three-year stint as the sponsor of the event. Tire manufacturer Bridgestone in 2008 aligned itself with the halftime program for five years, supporting The Who, The Black-Eyed Peas and Madonna, among others. Pepsi, which initially sponsored the halftime show for Super Bowl XLI in 2007, which featured Prince, launched its ten-year sponsorship of the mid-game performance in 2013.