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Why Super Bowl Halftime Performers Get Paid $0

(Foundation for Economic Education) A slew of celebrities has declined to perform at NFL Super Bowl halftime shows in recent years. Some, like Adele, just didn’t feel they were the right fit for the event.

“First of all, I’m not doing the Super Bowl,” the English singer-songwriter said in 2016. “I mean, that show is not about music. I can’t dance or anything like that. They were very kind, they did ask me, but I did say no.” (The NFL denied making an offer to Adele.)

Others (allegedly) refused offers to perform to show solidarity with former quarterback Colin Kaepernick. And then there were those who reportedly grumbled about not getting paid to perform.

Regarding the latter, the NFL has refused to budge.

“We do not pay the artists,” explained NFL spokesperson Joanna Hunter in 2016. “We cover expenses and production costs.”

The fact that artists don’t get paid surprises many people. We’re used to seeing performers like Katy Perry, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, and Coldplay command millions of dollars for their performances.

However, the NFL’s unique arrangement with performers does make sense from an economic perspective.

For one, the NFL’s agreement to cover all production costs is not trivial. Reports state these costs can exceed $10 million. Even if that figure is exaggerated, we’re still talking about a sizeable cost.

Second, let’s not forget that companies are lining up to shell out $5 million for a 30-second Super Bowl commercial. Why? Because there’s value in having your product seen by tens of millions of viewers. Artists, who generally perform between 12 and 15 minutes at halftime shows, receive about $24 million to $30 million in exposure, assuming the same rate of value as companies paying for commercial time.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, artists still have direct financial incentives to perform. Even if the NFL is not cutting them a check, artists, without exception, have seen a spike in record sales following their Super Bowl halftime performances.

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