The Weeknd Super Bowl 2021 halftime show: What to expect, how to watch for free – CNET

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The Super Bowl transcends football. Plenty of people tune in who aren’t sports fans to check out the legendary commercials, the movie trailers, the general spectacle and the star-studded Pepsi-sponsored halftime show. This year’s game takes place in Tampa, Florida, on Sunday, Feb. 7, with the hometown Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tom “Big Coat” Brady taking on the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs and QB Patrick Mahomes. The headliner is Grammy Award-winning singer The Weeknd, and the musician is psyched to play.

“We all grow up watching the world’s biggest acts playing the Super Bowl and one can only dream of being in that position,” the singer said in a statement. “I’m humbled, honored and ecstatic to be the center of that infamous stage this year.”

Ready for The Weeknd: Who is he?

Born in Toronto to Ethiopian immigrant parents, The Weeknd (real name: Abel Tesfaye) began his career the 21st century way — uploading songs to YouTube back in 2010. 

According to Grammy.com, he chose his stage name because he dropped out of high school and left “one weekend and never (came) back home.” His stage name is missing an “e” because there was already a Canadian band known as The Weekend.

He’s since won three Grammys, eight Billboard Music Awards, five American Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards and nine Juno Awards. He’s appeared as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live three times. His last SNL appearance came in March 2020, just before the pandemic locked most things down. In that show, he startled audiences with his bandaged face, but the look was part of the act. 

“The significance of the entire head bandages is reflecting on the absurd culture of Hollywood celebrity and people manipulating themselves for superficial reasons to please and be validated,” he told Variety, in a teasing and mysterious interview. (The New York Post has a lengthy timetable of the singer’s bloody-bandage look.)

What’s expected?

We don’t know if The Weeknd will sport facial bandages at the big game, but he isn’t wearing them in a 30-second ad for his halftime performance. In it, he’s dressed in an all black outfit, complete with leather jacket and shiny shoes, and seen walking through a stadium tunnel toward the field.

In a 10-minute press conference, The Weeknd confirmed he’s put his own money into getting just the Super Bowl sets he wants. Although game organizers cover all production costs, the singer put up $7 million to “make this halftime show be what he envisioned,” his manager told Billboard. He’s certainly had to get creative with the performance, which usually happens right in the center of the football field — but may be different this year.

“Due to COVID and for the safety of the players and the workers, we built the stage within the stadium …  I’m not going to tell you anything else because you’ll have to watch on Sunday.” 

When a local Tampa reporter asked if The Weeknd would incorporate the stadium’s built-in pirate ship, he said he would, somewhat, but wouldn’t reveal details. The 103-foot ship is located in the north end zone and was made by the same company that produces Disney props. Its cannons fire when the home team Buccaneers score points, and an animatronic parrot frequently chats with fans.

Previous Super Bowl performers have included special guests in their show, but as befits a social-distancing year, The Weeknd said he won’t have any other artists join him.

COVID-19 changes

In the past, fans have been a part of the halftime show, surrounding the artists down on the field, kind of like a real club show. Don’t expect that this year. 

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, new health and safety guidelines will be in place for the entire event. Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium normally holds more than 65,000, but due to pandemic restrictions, only about 25,000 fans will attend the game, including 7,500 vaccinated health care workers who’ve been given free tickets.

And fans will be socially distanced in “seating pods,” People magazine reports. They’ll also need to wear masks, will receive free hand sanitizer and will pay for food or souvenirs with contactless pay options.

How to watch?

The Super Bowl will air on CBS on Sunday, Feb. 7, at 6:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. PT), and will be livestreamed on the CBS All Access app. You can also stream it free on Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. The NFL and Yahoo Sports mobile apps will also all stream the game for free on phones and tablets.

We’ve got a lengthy explanation of the numerous ways to get CBS or other services showing the game in our How to Watch post.

Look to YouTube if you miss the game

Last year’s dance-heavy show featured Jennifer Lopez and Shakira. Immediately after the show, the NFL posted the entire 14-minute performance on YouTube for free viewing. It seems likely the league once again will post this year’s show on the NFL YouTube account right after halftime, and we’ll link to it here if they do.

Here’s last year’s show while we wait:

More Super Bowl music

Though he won’t have guests during his performance, The Weeknd won’t be the only famous singer performing at the Super Bowl. The pregame national anthem will be a duet performed by Grammy nominees Jazmine Sullivan and Eric Church.

Before the anthem, Grammy-winning singer H.E.R. will sing America the Beautiful.

And there’ll be still more music after the game. Verizon is hosting Big Concert for Small Business, a livestreaming musical event hosted by Tiffany Haddish and featuring artists such as Alicia Keys, Brandi Carlile, Christina Aguilera, Luke Bryan and Miley Cyrus, in addition to more from H.E.R., Jazmine Sullivan and Eric Church. 

The concert will stream on Verizon’s Twitter, TikTok, Twitch and YouTube channels, as well as on Yahoo, Fios and iHeartRadio, beginning after the game at 8 pm PT. Organizers are encouraging fans to make a $10 donation to support small businesses by texting SMALLBIZ to 20222. 


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