Apple Music to sponsor Super Bowl Halftime Show as services take spotlight

    • Apple Music is taking over sponsorship duties for the Super Bowl Halftime Show in a new multi-year agreement with the NFL, an announcement from the league said. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, though prior reports indicated the league was seeking up to $50 million for the rights.
    • Super Bowl LVII, which is scheduled for Feb. 12, will be the first time the music-streaming service acts as presenting sponsor for the mid-game extravaganza. Pepsi held the rights for the past decade, but stepped away from the Halftime Show in May while remaining an NFL partner.
    • In the months leading up to the event, Apple Music will share teasers and exclusive content through the @AppleMusic pages on TikTok, Instagram and Twitter. While linear TV viewership overall is on the decline, the Super Bowl remains a ratings juggernaut, with last winter’s Halftime Show drawing over 120 million live viewers.

    Apple is making a more aggressive play around its music-streaming offering while further embedding itself into the sports arena through the Super Bowl Halftime Show. The pact is noteworthy because Apple does not often leverage sponsorships as a way to market its products, though the Super Bowl is a special case, standing as one of the last guaranteed audience magnets in an otherwise slumping TV space.

    As much as football fans tune into the championship game for on-field play, many watch to see the commercials and a mid-game performance that brings out some of the biggest stars of the day. Last February’s Halftime Show — Pepsi’s final as sponsor — is a case in point: The concert united Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar and 50 Cent for the first time and engaged legions of viewers. It also scored three Creative Emmy awards.

    The Halftime Show deal speaks to how services beyond Apple’s core hardware products like the iPhone are becoming more important growth drivers as smartphone adoption hits saturation and consumers upgrade to the latest models less frequently. The NFL’s announcement positioned the move as the next phase of Apple’s relationship with music, an industry it previously shook up through the introduction of the iPod and iTunes, Apple Music being the streaming-oriented evolution of the digital music marketplace.

    Apple Music operates in a competitive category that includes Spotify, which is the most popular platform globally with 188 million subscribers. The Halftime Show is a chance to promote Apple Music to a wider consumer base and create a stronger connection between the service and music culture. Apple Music boasts a catalog of over 90 million songs and perks tailored to audiophiles like immersive spatial audio.

    Apple is also negotiating for a streaming package around the NFL Sunday Ticket to bolster its Apple TV+ video streamer, but has balked at the league’s price, The New York Times reported. The league is asking for $2.5 billion, substantially more than what is paid by the current rights holder, DirectTV.

    Apple securing pro football coverage would put it on a more level playing field with rival Amazon, which started exclusively streaming “Thursday Night Football” this season. Sponsoring the Halftime Show was the result of Apple’s desire to strengthen its relationship with the NFL, per the Times.


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