Apple Music Displaces Pepsi as Super Bowl Halftime Sponsor

Apple has secured main sponsorship rights to the Super Bowl LVII halftime show, with Apple Music replacing Pepsi, which had a lock on the slot for the past 10 years. The event takes place February 12, 2023, at the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, broadcasting on FOX. The price wasn’t disclosed, but the NFL had reportedly been asking $50 million for the prime halftime positioning. The deal played out against a backdrop of the NFL’s Sunday Ticket rights sale, with a reported $2.5 billion asking price and Apple said to be the most serious bidder.

“Becoming the primary sponsor … is a departure for Apple,” reports The New York Times, “The company has prided itself on marketing its brand differently than consumer goods companies such as Coca-Cola, Budweiser and McDonald’s, which have long histories of sponsoring sports and cultural events.”

“Apple seldom sponsors events that it does not control,” adds NYT. “It has not lent its brand to a high-profile event since 2016, when it sponsored the Met Gala in a bid to increase acceptance of its Apple Watch within the world of fashion.” The NFL described Apple’s halftime involvement as “a multi-year partnership.”

In addition to Apple, other potential Sunday Ticket takers include Amazon, Google and ESPN. Last year, the league cut an 11-year, $13 billion Thursday night agreement with Amazon.

“With consumers abandoning traditional television packages, Roger Goodell, the NFL’s commissioner, has put a priority on expanding the league’s reach beyond traditional broadcasters to digital media such as Netflix and HBO Max, where younger viewers are turning their attention,” writes NYT, characterizing Big Tech platforms as “the sports programmers of tomorrow.”

In July, the NFL launched its own NFL+ streaming service, offering live in-market games, and on Sundays any game available beginning 10 minutes after it has ended.

Rihanna will perform at the 2023 halftime show, according to Fox29 Philadelphia. NBCUniversal and Nielsen reported a total U.S. 2022 Super Bowl audience of 112.3 million across television and streaming, marking a five-year high.

The new sponsorship “is another sign that Cupertino will be aggressive on its live sports ambitions as we believe this is the drumroll to winning the DirectTV package vs Amazon,” Wedbush Securities managing director Dan Ives told Yahoo Finance, which posited the price at “more than $2 billion annually.” Yahoo writes that “Ives has indicated in the past that Apple is ‘in the winner’s circle’ for the NFL’s Sunday Ticket streaming package that provides fans access to every NFL game.”

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