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YouTube Wants to Be a Super Bowl Winner, Too

The Super Bowl halftime show has become a showcase for some of music’s biggest stars in recent years, from Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones to Beyoncé, Prince, and Madonna. True to form, this year’s broadcast, on Feb. 1 on Comcast’s NBC, will feature singer Katy Perry, one of pop music’s biggest acts, with an assist by rocker Lenny Kravitz. Yet that star power isn’t deterring YouTube from offering its own halftime show online, hosted by Harley Morenstein, the ringleader of food stunt group Epic Meal Time. In 2010, Morenstein and his pals made history when they wowed Web viewers with a 5,210 calorie pizza made of fast-food items (boasting 286 grams of fat). In addition to music, he promises fake Super Bowl ads and stunts such as online celebrities jumping into a vat of cheese.

The show, featuring some of YouTube’s biggest stars, is part of a broader initiative to promote ads on the Google-owned site—as well as to exploit America’s cult of loving and hating the expensive ads that air during the Super Bowl, the year’s most-watched television event. Last year’s game, broadcast on Fox, was seen by more than 111.5 million viewers, a record. The YouTube spectacle will stream live on its website during the game. YouTube has long competed for video advertising dollars with Facebook and Twitter, and it will use the halftime show and the ads around it to differentiate itself and demonstrate its value to top brands.