Do Super Bowl Halftime Performances Increase an Artist's Popularity?

January 27, 2016


  • Similar to the Oscars “bump,” musicians have a significant increase in popularity on YouTube, following a Super Bowl halftime performance.
  • Beyoncé, as a headliner in 2014, and Missy Elliott, as a special guest in 2015, have had the largest lift in popularity on YouTube, following a halftime performance.
  • Missy Elliott’s music experienced a renaissance: two of her tracks entered the Billboard Hot 100 in February, and traffic to her videos on YouTube nearly doubled.
  • 2016: unlike previous years, Coldplay, Bruno Mars, and Beyoncé (the latter two both repeat Super Bowl performers) are of similar current popularity; thus, it will be a big challenge for an up-and-coming or classic artist to experience a noticeable Super Bowl bump.

In music, a Super Bowl halftime performance is the equivalent of the “Oscars bump” in film: enormous exposure, and an opportunity for increased sales.

To see which artists have benefited from Super Bowl halftime performances, we examined the data on YouTube from the past four games (2012 - present).

The Super Bowl “Bump” (2012 - present)

In the past four years, Beyoncé, as a headliner, and Missy Elliott, as a special guest, have had the largest lift in popularity on YouTube following a halftime performance.

Percent Increase in Total Views Before vs. After Super Bowl Performance
Using 7-day average views prior to performance announcement vs. 7-day average post-performance. “Total Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID

Super Bowl 2015
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Super Bowl 2014
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Super Bowl 2013*
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*views are approximated using all videos associated with artist.

Super Bowl 2012*
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*For Super Bowl 2012, data compares 7-day average pre-performance vs. 7-day post-performance. Views are approximated using all videos associated with artist.

Overall, the Super Bowl has the power to catapult an artist into the cultural zeitgeist. For the week following Katy Perry’s performance in 2015, views of her music averaged 10 million views/day, a 30 percent increase over her average plays prior to being announced as a performer.

For special guests, the increase can be even more significant. Missy Elliott’s popularity tripled, increasing to 938,000 views/day for the week following her performance. We observed a similar trend for special guests from prior years as well: M.I.A. had a 160 percent increase in 2012 and Red Hot Chili Peppers had a 65 percent increase in 2014.

The Power of a Halftime Performance

Let’s go deeper on the artist most impacted by a Super Bowl performance in the past four years: Missy Elliott.

Missy Elliott’s Total Views Before and After Super Bowl Halftime
“Total Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 4.12.42 PM.png

“Total Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID

For Generation X and older millennials, Missy Elliott remained an iconic figure, despite a slower schedule of releases than her fans had become accustomed to in the ‘90s and early ‘00s. Much of the younger audience, however, never had the opportunity to be exposed to hits like "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" and “4 My People.” As a result of this gap, Elliott’s Super Bowl performance had an outsized effect: although she had received a steady stream of views prior to the announcement, they nearly doubled following her halftime act (a trend that remained consistent until late 2015, when her views increased once more), and her album and song downloads were reported to have risen 996 percent. Additionally, the two songs that Elliott performed — 2001’s "Get Ur Freak On" and 2002’s "Work It" — both entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the subsequent weeks.

An artist’s release trajectory is likely to impact their Super Bowl bump. Madonna, who holds the Guinness World Record for the best-selling female recording artist of all time, had put out her previous album four years prior, and saw an 81 percent increase in her video views; the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who have consistently sold out stadiums throughout their 33-year career, had last released an album in 2011, and saw a 65 percent boost in view numbers; Destiny’s Child, perhaps the most renowned R&B act at the turn of the 21st century, had last released a record in 2004, and saw their views soar nearly 500 percent (Beyoncé — having been a core member of the group — also saw a vast increase in viewership).

Will there be a Super Bowl “bump” in 2016?

In past halftime performances, special guests and headliners have typically targeted fans of different generations and genres. In 2012, Madonna was paired with Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. In 2014, Bruno Mars was paired with Red Hot Chili Peppers. In 2015, Katy Perry was joined by Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliot.

This year, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars (both in their second Super Bowl halftime appearances) are Coldplay’s contemporaries, with Beyoncé, known to many simply as Queen Bey, the fourth-most-listened-to musician on YouTube. Rather than classic acts like Red Hot Chili Peppers, or more niche performances that cater to more specific tastes like M.I.A., this year’s show will feature artists more similar to Katy Perry — that is to say, ones whose popularity has remained fairly and consistently high.

Total Views for Super Bowl Performers
“Total Views” is based on both official and fan-uploaded videos claimed using Content ID

Super Bowl 2015

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Super Bowl 2016 (post-show performance TBD)

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Will Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, or Coldplay experience a Super Bowl bump akin to that of Missy Elliott or Lenny Kravitz? That’s difficult to say — it would take a remarkably large and concentrated spike in views to register amid the impressive audience numbers that all three artists draw. The most likely outcome would be the Missy Elliott scenario: Alyson Stoner, who, as a little girl, appeared in Missy Elliott’s early videos as a backup dancer, put out a dance video to Elliott’s songs on February 12, and succeeded in drawing even more views to Missy’s videos than the halftime performance itself. If a fan reimagined a Beyoncé video akin to the way in which Justin Timberlake re-enacted “Single Ladies” on Saturday Night Live, or re-interpreted Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk,” a viral video spurred by the Super Bowl may very well lead to a bump in views.

One thing, however, would not come as a surprise — with three of the largest names in music, this Super Bowl halftime performance may very well succeed last year’s as the most viewed halftime show in history.

-- Posted by the YouTube Culture & Trends Team