When it comes to the Super Bowl this year, YouTube is betting that football fans will rather watch a man dive into a pool of cheese than suffer through another bland halftime show. The Google-owned video site is hosting its own live alternative to the traditional halftime histrionics, with more than 20 of its homegrown "creators and musicians" onboard and Harley Morenstein of EpicMealTime hosting. As well as the aforementioned cheese diving (as promised by Morenstein), YouTube says there will be musical performances, stunts, and fake Super Bowl ads made by the likes of special effects expert Freddie Wong. Meanwhile, over in normal TV-land, there'll just be Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz.
"A huge theme for us is the notion of brands as creators and the commercial as content."
YouTube says that the event won’t just boost the profile of its online stars, but will further blur the lines between creative content and paid advertising. "The halftime show falls in nicely with this huge theme for us, which is the notion of brands as creators and the commercial as content," Google’s managing director of brands Suzie Reider, told Bloomberg. "When you’re an advertiser, your ad sits on YouTube next to a piece of content."
To highlight this point, YouTube’s Super Bowl AdBlitz channel will also be returning in 2015, giving users a chance to watch teasers for upcoming Super Bowl ads and then vote for their favorites when they're released in full on game-day. YouTube stresses that this isn't just extra advertising: users love it. Last year it says visitors to the site watched "more than 6.3 million hours’ worth of Super Bowl ads … That’s enough time for you to fly from Phoenix to the Moon and back 87,500 times." If YouTube can attract even a slice of that interest for their own adverts, then their Super Bowl halftime show will be money well spent.