NCAA Announces Halftime Concert For National Championship Game

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According to a report by the Associated Press, the College Football Playoff has announced that it is hosting a Super Bowl-style halftime concert at a secondary location during next year's College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

The concert will be held at Centennial Olympic Park, just over a mile away from the newly constructed Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on January 8, 2018. The marching bands of the schools who make it to the national championship game will still get to perform during halftime. However, the broadcast of their performances will be moved to another ESPN network and replaced with the new show.

"Traditions are an important part of college football," College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock said in a statement to the AP. "This rich culture includes marching bands performing at halftime."

According to Hancock, ESPN was the catalyst of this new idea and approached the CFP about putting on the concert. ESPN has not booked a musical guest yet.

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Clemson University band performing at the 2017 Fiesta Bowl as apart of the College Football Playoffs

Could This Spell The End For Bands Halftime Performances?

The announcement that a new halftime concert could spell the end of the band's half-time performances. Why? Simple answer, follow the money. 

In an article on Billboard.com, FOX reported that Lady Gaga's 13-minute show during halftime of the Super Bowl in February had 117.5 million viewers. The all-time record for viewership for a Super Bowl halftime show is 120.7 million viewers. Katy Perry was the musical guest for that show.

ESPN reported that the viewership for the 2017 CFP National Championship game was just over 26 million viewers. But that was almost 700,000 less than the 2016 game. 

While the love, tradition, and pageantry of the bands performing at halftime create a unique atmosphere that separates college football from the NFL, ESPN has bills to pay.

In 2008, ESPN signed a massive 15-year deal with the Southeastern Conference worth a total of $2 billion. And that wasn't the only massive rights deal ESPN brokered.

However, in recent years, people are ditching cable in favor of on-demand streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Chromecast. This is cutting deep into ESPN's pockets. 

By shifting the bands' performances to a secondary channel, ESPN would be able to position a marque guest to perform and raise the value of advertising space during the broadcast.

While bands like Alabama and Clemson can certainly put on a great show, names like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Bruno Mars would draw in more eyes and thus raise the value of the broadcast.

It's clear the NCAA still supports the idea of the bands performing during halftime, but having an separate venue to hold a concert costs additional money. And, having a big name performing inside the stadium during halftime would, again, drive value up for tickets to the game. 

Hopefully, the bands will continue to perform like they have for so many years. But the writing is on the wall.


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