Will Beyonce Beat Madonna's Super Bowl Halftime Record?

At this point, we're wondering whether there was actually more upside to Beyonce's recent national-anthem controversy than downside. Not only did she handle the situation with hater-flattening aplomb, her promise of a live performance actually seems to strengthen her already-strong chances of topping Madonna's record for most-watched halftime show of all time. The Material Girl's performance during last year's Super Bowl reached over 116 million viewers, according to Nielsen, watched by more viewers than the game itself.

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But advertising and branding executives think that Beyonce has an appeal wide enough - not to mention a buzzy post-Blue Ivy narrative - to draw an even bigger crowd.

"She's one of the biggest stars in the world, music or otherwise, and she's got an incredible reputation. She's an incredible performer and is great with brands," says Russell Wallach, president of Live Nation Network. "The Super Bowl is an incredible marketing platform for any artist, and this puts her in front of the biggest worldwide television audience. That is obviously incredibly powerful for her."

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The anticipation of Beyonce returning to the stage as a performer is also quite high. Apart from the anthem, she performed a short series of concerts at Atlantic City's Revel casino last year and has popped up onstage during a few of husband Jay-Z's gigs, but she's been largely out of the spotlight since giving birth to Blue Ivy in January.

"Fans have missed her music and eagerly anticipate her return to the stage," says Jennifer Hageney, managing director of media agency MEC Access. "In this case, the world's biggest stage, where she is expected to perform her top hits and unveil new music. Social media conversations have exploded - with more excitement than we've seen in recent years. Collaborations with big names like Jay-Z, Gaga or a Destiny's Child reunion are rumored and adding fuel to the Super Bowl fire."

"I can't imagine why everyone wouldn't be really excited to see what she brings next - few people have a way of really doing that," adds Christianne Brooks, group creative director at entertainment agency mOcean. "With how fast society is moving and how much they want the next big thing, she really embodies that."

Beyonce could also potentially leverage the Super Bowl to debut new music, as Madonna did last year with single "Give Me All Your Luvin'" featuring Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., which later debuted at No. 13 on the Hot 100. The strategy can also backfire, however, as it did for Janet Jackson, whose 2004 album Damita Jo suffered following the uproar surrounding her "waldrobe malfunction" with Justin Timberlake months prior.  

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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