BEYONCÉ STEALS THE SHOW
Heavy coverage of Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance across the 10 sports outlets studied suggested that the halftime entertainment may be just as important to audiences as the game itself.
- Across the Super Bowl coverage, the sports news outlets featured Beyoncé more than any other personality. She received more attention than any other individual at the game, including the coaches, quarterbacks and players. (More>>)
- Sports websites pictured Beyoncé in very flattering shots — but also in very sexualized images. (More>>)
- General news or entertainment sites highlighted “gotcha” unflattering shots of the singer — but such images were almost entirely ignored by the sports outlets. (More>>)
Scroll down for highlights of the Super Bowl’s halftime coverage.
The Super Bowl is not just a sporting event but a cultural phenomenon. Those who normally do not watch or follow NFL football tune in to watch multimillion-dollar commercials and the Pepsi-sponsored halftime show. In 2013, Beyonce՛performed during the coveted halftime slot in what commentators argued was one of the best halftime shows in recent history.
News outlets featured Beyoncé in more photos and mentioned her in more captions more than any other person during their Super Bowl coverage.
Researchers found that Beyoncé appeared in more captions than the quarterbacks of both teams combined. Photos pinned to the halftime board were far more likely to have a caption than photos taken at other points in the game.
- Almost a fifth of captions mentioned Beyoncé, while just a tenth mentioned Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and another tenth mentioned 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Sports websites pictured Beyoncé in very flattering shots — but also in very sexualized images.
Researchers found a majority of the sports websites’ photos of Beyoncé showed her in attractive, and often “very sexualized” poses — often full body shots.
- In total, researchers pinned a total of 220 photos of Beyoncé from the websites evaluated in this study — and they did not code a single one as “slightly” or “very negative.” Evidently the sports-related outlets did not find negative photos worth publishing, perhaps because the outlets did not think their sports specific audience would wish to see non-flattering images of the star.
- Researchers coded almost every photo of Beyoncé as “sexualized” — just 2% were not coded that way .
- Beyoncé was photographed full body in more than half of photos she appeared in and just 6% were close ups of her face and shoulders.
- This trend of sports sites featuring sexualized images of women can be tracked beyond the Super Bowl halftime show. Many sports outlets feature photo galleries or cover shots of the attractive women that surround or participate in sports. Sports Illustrated has long been known for its famous annual swimsuit issue, and SI.com also posts blogs such as Extra Mustard and Hot Clicks, which dedicate attention to galleries of cheerleaders and models.
Unsurprisingly, most halftime coverage focused solely on Beyoncé.
Researchers found the news outlets studied focused on Beyoncé’s individual performance more than the reunion of Destiny’s Child.
- Beyoncé was pictured alone in half the photos in which she appeared, with other backup performers in just one-fifth, and with one or both members of Destiny’s Child in 16%. This means Beyoncé appeared in 83% of all halftime photos.
- Just 1% of the published photos pictured one or both members of Destiny’s Child without Beyoncé.
Despite the favorable portrayal of Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance on sports websites, unflattering photos of Beyoncé made waves on non-sports related outlets.
Although researchers did not formally evaluate entertainment media’s coverage of the Super Bowl, they did note that many non-sports sites covered the game and especially the halftime show. Researchers did note — as did many media commentators — that entertainment media sites often posted unflattering photos of Beyoncé that captured her in odd action shots — between movements looking “overly” muscular or with a strange look on her face.
Those “negative” photos became a story in themselves in part because Beyoncé’s publicist asked many outlets to not print or use the photos. (See the letter from Beyoncé’s publicist here, via BuzzFeed) The use of the negative photos and the resulting attention they received, caused Beyoncé and her team to severely limit photographers’ access to her performances.
A few of the negative photos that caused a commotion on the Web can be found here.