Super Bowl 2021: How to watch the Weeknd's halftime show and everything else you need to know
As Saturday Night Live posited this weekend, pretty much nothing is working in America right now, from our government to the stock market. One of the only things we can count on is for Tom Brady to be really good at throwing a football. Case in point, the six-time champ is taking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Super Bowl LV in his first year with the team, which went just 7-9 last season.
So while some things on Sunday might look different — a smaller live crowd, some major companies forgoing commercials — we can expect Brady and Kansas City Chief's young superstar Patrick Mahomes to put on a show. And, of course, no Super Bowl would be complete without a musical performance: The Weeknd will take the stage for the halftime show.
Here's everything you need to know ahead of the 55th Super Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
Reigning champs the Kansas City Chiefs will vie for their second title in a row, having beaten the San Francisco 49ers in 2020. The last team to go to back-to-back Super Bowls was the New England Patriots, who went to three between the 2016 and 2018 NFL seasons. They won two thanks to Brady, who's now about to attend his first Super Bowl with the Buccaneers.
It should be an exciting matchup between two quarterbacks: Mahomes, 25, the reigning MVP, is coming off another stellar season, and Brady, 43, with nine Super Bowl appearances under his belt, is one of the best to ever play the game. Whatever happens will be one for the history books, as Brady looks for a historic seventh ring and Mahomes tries to become the youngest QB to nab two titles.
Who's singing the national anthem?
R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan and country musician Eric Church will sing the 2021 national anthem as a duet. They'll be preceded by Grammy winner H.E.R. performing "America the Beautiful." Both segments will have Warren "WAWA" Snipe performing the songs in American Sign Language, and both will take place just before the kickoff.
Are there any preshows?
Miley Cyrus will perform at the first TikTok Tailgate, the NFL's pregame event for the healthcare workers attending the big game. And poet Amanda Gorman, who delivered a rousing recitation at Joe Biden's inauguration, will do a reading honoring three pandemic heroes before the coin toss.
When does the Super Bowl start, and how can I watch?
The big game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT on Sunday. It'll be broadcast on CBS, meaning you'll be able to stream it live for free on CBSsports.com and the CBS Sports App once you log in with your cable subscription details. The game will also be available to watch online at CBS All Access, the network's streaming platform that offers a seven-day free trial and starts at $5.99 per month.
Hulu Live TV, FuboTV, and YouTube TV will be streaming the Super Bowl as well, since they carry CBS as part of their packages. Each has a different subscription cost, but all provide free trial periods that you can start right now.
What should we expect from the halftime show?
So far, the Weeknd is the sole performer announced for the Pepsi halftime show, and he'll have to top Jennifer Lopez and Shakira's show-stopping spectacle from last year. The Canadian singer has already proven his high-concept artistry in the past, and recently fans have loved the music videos and performances promoting his acclaimed 2020 album After Hours.
"We've been really focusing on dialing in on the fans at home and making performances a cinematic experience," the Weeknd told Billboard about his 13-minute long show. And though the organizers are covering production costs as per usual, he's putting up $7 million of his own money to "make this halftime show be what he envisioned."
What commercials will play during the Super Bowl?
We've already seen a few roll out, like Uber Eats' ad featuring a Wayne's World reunion and a Cheetos' spot starring Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, and Shaggy. But this year, you won't be seeing commercials from a few major companies who've been top advertisers at past Super Bowls. Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Hyundai, Ford, Little Caesars, Olay, and Budweiser are among companies who've benched ads.
Coca-Cola, which has aired commercials during every Super Bowl since 2006 (and except 2019), will be instead "investing in the right resources during these unprecedented times," Variety reported. Similarly, Budweiser will give the money it would have spent on a commercial to the Ad Council to help the coalition raise awareness of the benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
However, Budweiser's parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev still intends to run Super Bowl advertising for its brands including Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, and more. And Pepsi's parent company, PepsiCo, is going ahead with commercials for Mountain Dew along with various snacks from Frito-Lay.
How else has COVID-19 impacted this year's game?
There will definitely be a smaller live audience, with about 22,000 expected in the crowd at the 65,000-plus-capacity Raymond James Stadium. That number includes 7,500 vaccinated healthcare workers from the central Florida area who were invited by the NFL as thanks for their service during the pandemic. The league will also recognize healthcare heroes through special moments in the stadium and during the broadcast.
What's happening after the game?
CBS will premiere the Queen Latifah-led The Equalizer in the coveted post-Super Bowl slot. The crime drama is the second reboot of the '80s series of the same name — Denzel Washington starred in 2014's The Equalizer and 2018's The Equalizer 2.