10 Things You Didn't Know About the Super Bowl Halftime Show


Over 100 million people watch the Super Bowl each year ... and some of them don't give a flying pigskin about football. Here are some facts to tide them over until halftime.

1. Halftime performers don't actually get paid for performing. Instead, they get production expenses covered and enjoy a boost in record sales and media buzz, positive or negative.

2. Halftime hasn't always been about pop music headliners. It used to be a Broadway musical-style production, often designed to cover the field. Past performers included Carol Channing, George Burns, and a lot of college marching bands.

3. Another performer you wouldn't normally associate with football: jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald. In 1972, she was the first African-American woman to sing during the halftime show.

4. Some musical acts have a cult following, and some might just be cults. The folk group Up With People performed at the most Super Bowls—four halftime shows between 1976 and 1986—despite being one of the least popular acts ever. The group formed in the 1960s to counter immoral hippie subculture and received funding from Halliburton, Exxon, and General Motors.

5. Complain about Bruno Mars all you want—at least it's not 1989, when an Elvis impersonator/magician named Elvis Presto took to the stage to perform the world's largest card trick. But wait, it's even cheesier than it sounds.

6. The appearance of New Kids on the Block at Super Bowl XXV was supposed to usher in a new era of pop star-studded halftime shows. But oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, they didn't have the right stuff. It was 1991, and the halftime show was shown after the game to make room for Desert Storm news coverage.

7. Michael Jackson's 1993 Super Bowl performance was the real game changer. It was the first time network ratings went up during halftime. Viewers used to disappear during the break in the game. Now Jackson was the one disappearing ... and re-appearing in the middle of the field!

8. No Super Bowl halftime list would be complete without mentioning Nipplegate at Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004. When Justin Timberlake "accidentally" exposed Janet Jackson's right breast, the two made history. "Wardrobe malfunction" became part of the lexicon. For the next two years, "Janet Jackson" was the most searched term, event, and image on the Internet.

9. Unfortunately, Janet Jackson suffered more backlash after Nipplegate than Justin Timberlake. (Not to mention that seven years passed before another woman performed at halftime.) Meanwhile, the FCC fined CBS a record $550,000 that was later appealed and voided. Technology companies were the ultimate victor of the stunt, debacle, or whatever it was. The extra-revealing halftime show finale was the most watched, recorded, and replayed moment in TiVo history—and later credited with bringing in at least 35,000 new subscriptions. The scramble for online footage of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" also inspired the creation of YouTube and the video hosting service Vevo. The founders aren't ashamed to admit it.

10. Currently, the most-watched halftime show in history was the one headlined by Madonna in 2012. Some 111 million people watched the New York Giants play the New England Patriots, but 114 million viewers tuned in just for the Queen of Pop. Beyoncé's performance last year was the second most viewed halftime performance ever. And this year? We'll have to wait and see, but we're pretty sure the Red Hot Chili Peppers are keeping all their clothes on.