YouTube Takes on NBC With Own Super Bowl Halftime Show

YouTube will offer its own Super Bowl halftime show for the first time this year.

During the big game’s halftime on February 1, YouTube personalities will perform music and stunts, including diving into pools of beer and cheese. The show will be hosted by Harley Morenstein, who hosts Epic Meal Time, a popular weekly cooking show centered on bacon and Jack Daniel’s whiskey.

The goal of the alternative halftime show is to promote advertising on the Google-owned video-sharing platform, whose stars are recognizable enough to be featured by YouTube on billboards around the country. The participating personalities collectively have more than 60 million followers. Freddie Wong – creator of Video Game High School, a series in which gamers are considered the world’s elite athletes – alone has nearly 7.5 million, while comedian Toby “Tobuscus” Turner has more than 2 million.

The YouTube stars are essentially competing for viewers against Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz, who are performing in NBC’s televised halftime show. However, Greg Jarboe, president of SEO-PR, looks at it as cousins competing because of the platform’s role in Perry’s launch to superstardom.

“Yes, Katy Perry is a musical performer and yes, she will be on TV, but if you ask the YouTube community if she’s one of them, they’ll say yes,” Jarboe says. “YouTube stars are crossing over into mainstream media but interestingly enough, they don’t leave online media behind. They may have expanded their presence, but they didn’t leave behind their base.”

The star power of YouTube personalities will help to boost the broadcast, but Jarboe believes the online halftime show is also likely to do well because it’s the first one and people will be interested to see how it plays out. YouTube also understands its younger-slanting audience very well, he adds.

“In terms of commentary, in terms of the halftime activity, in terms of the actual football game, [Baby Boomers] have a set of expectations we grew up with,” he says. “My kids grew up with a computer in the house, and their experiences and frames of reference are very different. They’re much more likely to be sharing the game online with their friends than having a Super Bowl party where everyone gets together in the family room.”

For the Super Bowl, YouTube also plans to appeal to those consumers who are more interested in the ads than the game.

In addition to the halftime show, Morenstein will host AdBlitz, a YouTube-curated channel where consumers vote on their Super Bowl ads each year. So far, the channel features teasers – full commercials will be released after they air on TV – from Bud Light and Carnival Cruises, as well as parodies for cologne ads. Last year’s AdBlitz garnered 6.3 million hours in views.

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