If you haven’t heard about Beyoncé’s performance during the half-time show at Super Bowl XLVII, then you must answer this question for me. Where have you been? If you haven’t seen it, you better get watching (hosted externally on NFL.com, YouTube video unavailable).
I don’t plan to sit here and praise Beyoncé. Although I loved her performance and have been a fan of hers since the early days of Destiny’s Child, I want to look at the bigger picture. If you watch the performance I’ve linked above (if it is taken down due to copyright, please let me know) you’ll see that it is far more than a spectacle. A stage with 2 faces of Beyoncé, fire, fireworks shooting out of a guitar, a crowd of crazy fans and a giant statue of “Queen B” herself. But, do you remember why the show was taking place to begin with?
It was never supposed to be about Beyoncé. The Super Bowl is first and foremost, a sports final for the National Football League in the United States. The night was supposed to be about the two finalists, the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49’ers. However, as I scroll through Google News the 2nd most popular news story is still Beyoncé’s performance during the half-time show. Earlier today, it was the most popular. Not the fact that the Ravens dominated in the 1st half. Not that the 49’ers made a comeback in the 2nd half, only to lose in the end by a mere 3 points. It is all about Beyoncé and the reunion of Destiny’s Child.
There are numerous articles with different takes. Can Beyoncé top Madonna’s record set at last year’s show? Will she join the ranks of the Top 5 surprise performances? Beyoncé’s style revolution, and the most interesting of them all…did Beyoncé cause the power blackout that took place during the second half and stopped the game? Let’s not forget the news coverage that took place asking about whether she would sing live or not following her lip-syncing at the US Presidential inauguration.
So, what happened to create a situation where the most media and audience attention is placed on the performance rather than the actual sport? It’s important to look back to the year 1993. Super Bowl XXVII was held in California, and its half-time performer was none other than Michael Jackson.
In the process, it became the first ever half-time show that actually boosted the SuperBowl’s ratings and led to ratings boosts that continue to break records, all because of the superstar performers that take part in the show. There’s no denying that Michael Jackson was, and continues to be, one of the most influential performers in history. What has become clear, is that he even managed to shift the focus of one of the biggest annual sporting events in the world.
Another aspect, is the world of social media. According to Mashable, Beyoncé’s performance generated 268,000 tweets per minute during its finale, 257,500 tweets per minute during the Destiny’s Child performance and 252,200 tweets per minute during the performance of her song “Single Ladies”. 200 Beyoncé related photos were appearing on Instagram per second. On Facebook, mentions for Beyoncé’s name rose 49,000%. The half-time show garnered 4.3 million social comments, which is more than the 2012 Oscars and Madonna’s previous year’s performance could attain. Back when Michael Jackson performed, social media didn’t exist. People couldn’t communicate the way they can now. Being able to update second by second, was impossible. Even some of the most popular journalists in the world took part, such as Piers Morgan.
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 4, 2013
There’s no doubt that Beyoncé’s star impact had a substantial effect on the performance. It does beg the question of how more effective and record-breaking Michael Jackson’s performance could have been had such mediums existed. His performance saw the momentum shift from the sport to the performance, and it’s clear that the gap between them both will only continue. It doesn’t matter to a lot of people that the game was entertaining, or that there was a power outage. All that matters to them, is that Beyoncé put on the performance of her life and entertained millions. Is it a coincidence that she announced her first world tour in almost 4 years only hours after the performance? Definitely not. She’ll probably sell out each date with ease.
Of course, the NFL does benefit from this. While they are no longer the focus, they are the reason such a monumental show exists. Their international base is growing, with games being played internationally on a regular basis. If last year’s show is anything to go by, this year will see another boost to their already record-setting ratings. The NFL is growing from strength to strength because of the spectacle presented. Sports fans will still care about the competition, and the football will still be an important part of the event. They will probably charge more than the $4 million they asked for this year for each 30 second advert. What the NFL has created, is a platform for their organisation to boost themselves with.
Beyoncé may have been the star last night, but the NFL are the ones who are truly going to reap the benefits from having one of the biggest stars in the world grace their stage for 12 minutes.
No doubt they’re already planning how to continue those benefits at Super Bowl XLVIII (taking place on February 2nd, 2014).