Beyonce Knowles, performing at the Super Bowl for the first time, is poised to draw more viewers at halftime than the game itself, fueled by the flap over the pop star’s lip-syncing at President Obama’s inauguration.
The singer’s Feb. 3 performance may beat the record 112.6 million viewers that Madonna drew last year, said Brad Adgate, director of research at New York-based advertising company Horizon Media. The past two Super Bowls averaged more than 111 million viewers over four hours, according to data from Nielsen.
An audience of that size may lead to a surge in Knowles’s music sales for Sony Corp.’s Columbia label and added publicity for halftime sponsor PepsiCo Inc., which signed a contract with the singer last month. Madonna’s music sales almost tripled after last year’s game, according to Nielsen SoundScan data.
"All these events lined up perfectly, from the inauguration to the halftime show, so Beyonce could build momentum as she steps back into the spotlight," said Claudia Cahill, chief content officer for OMD Worldwide, the New York- based advertising company that oversees Pepsi’s entertainment sponsorships. "Nothing happens by accident."
Knowles belted out the national anthem at a press conference yesterday and then took questions, acknowledging she used a recording at Barack Obama’s Jan. 21 swearing-in for a second term. She said she will "absolutely" sing at the game.
The singer is returning to performing after taking a break to start a family with her husband, Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter. Her spokeswoman, Yvette Noel-Schure, didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The inauguration and halftime performances are lead-ins for a new album, a worldwide tour and a Feb. 16 film biography on Time Warner Inc.’s HBO called "Life Is But a Dream." Pepsi will sponsor the tour and promote the album, along with other tie-ins, Cahill said in an interview.
Fans away from their TVs will be able to watch Knowles’s halftime show, along with the game and other features, on mobile devices at CBSSports.com. CBS television charged sponsors an average of $3.75 million for 30-second Super Bowl ads, 7.1 percent more than a year ago, according to industry researcher Kantar Media, a unit of WPP Plc.
The kickoff between the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
As part of its Knowles promotion, Pepsi collected thousands of photos of dancing fans and will choose some to show on live TV before the halftime performance, according to Cahill, whose company is part of Omnicom Group Inc. Pepsi paid $50 million to lock in the singer, the New York Times estimated.
Knowles traveled to New Orleans the day after the inauguration to begin preparing for her appearance, Cahill said. Details of the performance and who will accompany the star on stage have been kept secret. At the press briefing, Knowles declined to comment on speculation she’ll reunite with Destiny’s Child.
"There is no doubt it will be incredibly exciting," Cahill said. "She is so heavily involved in the creative orchestrations of her performances, which are larger than life and technology masterpieces."
As a solo artist, Knowles has sold more than 13 million albums and 30 million tracks, David Bakula, a Nielsen senior vice president, said in an interview. While those figures may be less than some recent Super Bowl performers, Knowles is relevant to younger viewers, he said.
"She is a major celebrity, much more than Tom Petty or The Who," Bakula said. "There are pictures of her in magazines every week. A lot of people are aware of her, even outside music circles, who will tune in."
At last year’s Super Bowl, Madonna mixed past hits with new songs in a performance with guest appearances by Nicki Minaj and Mathangi "M.I.A." Arulpragasam.
Madonna’s audience topped the average for the game and was bigger than the combined 92.5 million who watched the Grammy, Oscar and Emmy awards shows, according to Nielsen data. The pop star’s 2012 concert tour was the biggest of the year with $296.1 million in worldwide revenue, PollStar magazine said.
"It doesn’t matter if it’s critically received as a great performance," Bakula said of halftime shows. "You look at the money advertisers pay for Super Bowl ads and this is a 15-minute commercial that reminds people how amazing these artists are."
CBS, owner of the most-watched network, gained 1.3 percent to $42.28 at 12:45 p.m. in New York. PepsiCo, based in Purchase, New York, fell 0.2 percent to $72.70 and Sony, owner of the world’s second-biggest record company, declined 0.5 percent to 1,355 yen in Tokyo.
While halftime viewership typically shrinks 5 percent compared with the game, Knowles has a good opportunity to set a record and draw more viewers than the game, Adgate said.
"Madonna was one of the few times that ratings actually grew during the half time show compared to the actual game,’" Adgate said. "I think this trend will continue."
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