February 6, 2023 at 5:00 am ET
Gen Z Is Extremely Ready for Rihanna’s Super Bowl Comeback
Still, the cohort’s interest in watching the Super Bowl LVII halftime show is 11 points down from last year’s Dr. Dre-led performance
Super Bowl LVII arrives to cap off an eventful NFL season that saw record TV ratings, but also high-profile injuries that again called into question the sport’s safety and reputation. This article is part of our series looking into the big game’s impact on television, fans, advertisers and more.
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Last fall, the NFL announced Apple Inc. would replace PepsiCo Inc. as the sponsor for the Super Bowl halftime show after a decade. But perhaps the bigger reveal came a few weeks later, when the tech giant announced that pop star Rihanna would headline this year’s show after some time out of the music spotlight.
With the exception of “Lift Me Up,” a soundtrack single released last year for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” the musician-turned-entrepreneur has not dropped an album since 2016’s “Anti” while she prioritizes her LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE-owned Fenty Beauty line. The nine-time Grammy Award winner was once a major presence in the pop and R&B scenes, with a slate of global hits like “Umbrella,” “We Found Love” and “Love the Way You Lie.” But some critics have questioned her fit to lead what is considered the biggest annual music performance in the world.
A new Morning Consult survey shows that nearly half (48%) of Americans are interested in watching the Super Bowl halftime show with Rihanna, driven by Gen Zers (66%) and millennials (61%). While those figures are high, they are down from last year’s show, which featured a star-studded collective of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar as a play for nostalgia.Z
Gen Z Is Driving Interest in Rihanna’s Super Bowl Halftime Show
Respondents were asked how interested they are in the 2023 Super Bowl halftime show featuring Rihanna and the 2022 Super Bowl featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar:
Surveys conducted Jan. 31, 2022, and Jan. 31-Feb. 1, 2023, among representative samples of 2,211 and 2,205 U.S. adults, respectively, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points. Figures may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
Gen Z, millennials love Rihanna
- More than half (53%) of U.S. adults, millennials (68%) and Gen Zers (63%) have a favorable opinion of Rihanna.
- The majority of Black respondents (75%) are interested in watching this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, compared with 44% of white respondents.
- Nearly half (49%) of adults said they are Rihanna fans. Among generations, Gen Zers are most likely to identify as Rihanna fans at 75% followed by millennials (66%), Gen Xers (51%) and baby boomers (24%). Meanwhile, 83% of Black respondents said they are Rihanna fans, compared with 44% of white respondents.
- While Americans, particularly younger generations, are interested in watching this year’s halftime show, there is less excitement compared with the 2022 show. Interest among Gen Zers fell 11 percentage points from last year, while interest among millennials dropped 12 points.
The Rihanna brand
Rihanna’s most recent album, “Anti,” re-entered the music charts ahead of the Super Bowl, perhaps an indication that fans are ready for the 34-year-old star to announce new music after a hiatus. While the comeback narrative has likely boosted excitement for the performance, Rihanna may not evoke the same feelings of generational nostalgia for younger viewers as last year’s 1990s rap performance did. Some Gen Z adults were only tweens the last time Rihanna topped the charts with new music and may have only been toddlers when she burst onto the scene in the early 2000s.
Because of Rihanna’s recent focus on her lucrative Fenty empire, some fans have argued the show is less about her comeback and more an opportunity for her to leverage her growing brand that extends well beyond music. Her Fenty x Savage label also dropped a new Super Bowl LVII collection last month.
There’s still the possibility Rihanna could use the performance to announce new music, or even bring on guests such as Jay-Z or Drake — two of her frequent collaborators. Either way, for about 15 minutes, she’ll have the undivided attention of most viewers.
The Jan. 31, 2023-Feb. 1, 2023, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,210 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.