American football might be an incomprehensible sport to many people outside the United States, but its Super Bowl Halftime Show is an international language.
This weekend, wardrobe malfunctions permitting, Justin Timberlake will seal his comeback in front of what will almost certainly be one of the biggest US TV audiences of all time (indeed the Halftime Show regularly pulls a bigger rating than the match itself). As global platforms for promoting your music go, it doesn’t get any bigger and that's why the likes of Coldplay, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga have all performed in recent years. Not to mention the additional music slots and the sync deal frenzy that surrounds the commercial breaks.
And yet there should be even greater opportunities out there. The most popular global sports are actually played everywhere in the world, rather than just in North America. But there’s still nothing quite like the Super Bowl anywhere else, unless you count the one-off, music-heavy opening and closing ceremonies at the London Olympics.
Music and sport are the UK’s twin passions, two of its biggest gifts to the world and the two things guaranteed to quicken the pulse of passionate fans. Yet the two worlds rarely mix as they do in the US. Taylor Swift – the biggest pop star in the world – will turn up to play halftime at a college football game. Football’s FA Cup’s showpiece matches may have featured the likes of The Enemy, Tinie Tempah and Hard-Fi, but it’s never become a key promotional fixture for the biz.
Jockey Club Live’s series of gigs at racetracks and other sporting venues have shown the potential and every football highlights show or T20 cricket match illustrates that sport loves a soundtrack.
But now it’s time to build on such platforms. The biz has become skilled at seeking out opportunities in the online space, as the rush of recent Facebook deals show. So how about striking long-term deals in the real world with the Premier League or Team GB and bringing some of that Super Bowl razzamatazz to our sporting events?
After all, halftime means there’s still everything to play for.