The NFL has historically not paid its halftime performers. Not Bruno Mars, not Beyonce, and not even Prince. The artists do it for one reason: With 115 million TV viewers this year, the Super Bowl halftime show is the biggest live event on the planet, and that translates into downloads, merchandise and ticket sales.
But now the NFL is looking to turn the tables on the coveted halftime gig. On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the football league is in talks with Coldplay, Katy Perry and Rihanna for next year’s show, but the terms have changed. The NFL would like to be paid by the artists, perhaps in the form of a cut of their post-Super Bowl tour income.
That seemed to some like an overreach by the NFL, and as the Journal reported, the proposal has received a “chilly” reception. But should it? Keep in mind that Super Bowl advertisers are going to be paying NBC -- part of Comcast Corp. (NASDAQ:CMCSA) -- in the neighborhood of $4.5 million for 30 seconds of commercial time. That, of course, doesn't count the many millions it costs to conceive and shoot a big-budget commercial. PepsiCo Inc. (NYSE:PEP) is paying many times that to be sole sponsor of the halftime show, in essence a giant commercial for, well, the entertainer.
Major Super Bowl advertisers make big investments in the game and buy multiple spots. Anheuser-Busch, part in AB InBev (NYSE:BUD), for example, bought 4.5 minutes in last year’s Super Bowl, for example. That’s nine 30-second spots. It it unreasonable to suggest that an artist -- a major global brand looking to connect with consumers -- should also pay for the opportunity?
It's certainly an opportunity worth weighing, particularly for an artist trying to get to the next level. As Rolling Stone points out, the show might not make a lot of sense for established acts like Coldplay and Katy Perry whose tours already gross millions and doesn't necessarily need the help. But then look at the advertisers: Everyone knows what a Pepsi tastes like, yet the opportunity to remind the world of a feeling connected to Pepsi is worth the price of admission.