Super Bowl shakeup: Apple Music replaces Pepsi as halftime sponsor, beer advertising exclusivity ends

The NFL season is just barely underway, but Fox is already building up excitement – and selling out its ad inventory – for its broadcast of the “Big Game” in February. It includes some major changes, as Apple Music takes over sponsorship of the halftime show (which announced Rihanna as the headline performer) from longtime sponsor Pepsi in a new multi-year deal, and Anheuser-Busch drops its deal with the NFL to be the exclusive beer advertiser of the Super Bowl. The latter opens the door for other breweries while still maintaining Anheuser-Busch in a non-exclusive advertising capacity. Molson-Coors has already jumped at the opportunity to advertise during the year’s biggest television spectacle.

The importance of live sporting events has been amplified in a streaming world. As more people move to on-demand streaming services, live sports remains one of the few ways to reach a large audience simultaneously. Ads for the Super Bowl are bringing in record highs of $7 million or more for a 30-second spot.

“If you need to launch a new product, if you need to sell a car, if you need to get your messaging out there to the masses in short order, live sports is the only place to do it,” emphasized Mark Evans, Fox Sports’ executive vice president of sales.

Apple continues to make a strong push into sports, after adding a weekly Friday Night Baseball game with Major League Baseball during the 2022 season and partnering with Major League Soccer for a new streaming service. Apple remains the frontrunner in the bid to take over NFL’s Sunday Ticket package from DirecTV at the end of the season as the league looks to modernize its out-of-market games broadcast package and move it to a streaming provider.

Apple’s sponsorship of the highly viewed halftime show could bring more attention to their ad-free Apple Music streaming service. Over 120 million viewers watched the most recent halftime show featuring hip-hop pioneers like Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and Mary J. Blige. Interpret’s New Media Measure® data shows that NFL followers and Super Bowl watchers are more likely to subscribe to Apple Music.

While Apple Music remains the number two music streaming service on the market (behind Spotify), the additional exposure from a halftime sponsorship could help the iPhone maker close the gap. Moreover, the multi-year campaign could also bring more consumers into the larger Apple ecosystem, which could aid adoption of other services that Apple bundles, like Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, and Apple News.