Super Bowl Halftime Performance… for FREE?

Super Bowl LVIII, aka SB 58, set a record with a staggering 123.4 million viewers!  It was the most watched American television broadcast in a generation and the most watched Super Bowl in history!  The Kansas City Chiefs versus the San Francisco 49ers showdown in Las Vegas surpassed the record of 115 million viewers last year, when the Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles.  It came close to the estimated 125-150 million viewers who watched the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.

The big game, which aired on CBS and the Paramount Plus streaming platform, was also simulcast in Spanish on Univision as well as telecasted on Nickelodeon.  Some are saying it was the “Taylor Swift Effect;” however, each year NFL games have made up the majority of “most watched” television programs per year.  This was way before Taylor Swift began dating Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

You might be asking yourself, what does this all mean?  It means it makes this event the most valuable to advertisers looking to reach the mass market.  In fact, companies shelled out approximately $7 million for each 30-second ad.  The ads have taken on a life of their own, as many non-football fans tune in just to see the new ads, many of which are now released ahead of time.

Because of this tremendous exposure, both the NFL and CBS are in a powerful position.  In addition, Apple Music pays the NFL $50 million per year to sponsor the Super Bowl halftime show.  Did you know that Usher didn’t receive one penny of that money?

Many famous performing artists have graced the Super Bowl halftime stage, such as Prince, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez and the Rolling Stones!  Instead of getting paid, they receive an opportunity to leverage the honor of performing in front of over 115+ million people.   This results in a significant increase in concert ticket sales, followers gained and increases in their music streaming numbers!  When they accept the invitation, they are thinking long-term.

In my opinion, it is a fascinating system and here’s how it works.  The artist receives a $15 million promotional budget to work with.  The budget covers the massive number of 2000-3000 part-time workers which includes set design, security, marketing and dancers, etc.  The artist cannot pocket the money!

Sometimes, the $15 million budget isn’t sufficient to cover all of the show’s expenses.  For example, three years ago at Super Bowl 55, The Weeknd spent $7 million extra of his own money to subsidize the show and Dr. Dre spent similar money the following year at Super Bowl 56 in 2022.

The metrics data supports the theory that savvy marketing dollars spent yields big potential profits, meaning money makes money in the performing arts!

Take a look at the following post-performance numbers that have played out:

  1. Justin Timberlake saw a 534% increase in his music sales after Super Bowl 52.
  2. Travis Scott’s performance fees doubled from $500,000 to $1 million each from Super Bowl 53.
  3. Both Jennifer Lopez and Shakira gained 3 million Instagram followers each after their dual performance in Super Bowl 54.
  4. Rihanna’s performance had more viewers (118 million) than the game averaged (115 million) which includes YouTube views.
  5. The Weeknd sold 1 million concert tickets after his performance in Super Bowl 55.

This is why Usher was clever to accept the Super Bowl 58 invitation and he took it a step further by announcing his 24-city arena tour with tickets available as soon as he exited stage left!  He also appeared on several of the good morning America shows to promote his performance.

StubHub claims that artists typically see a 50% increase in concert ticket searches after performing at the Super Bowl! 

I always say the best deals are when everybody wins!  If you think about it, the NFL gets the top performers to jam for free and the musicians get a deeply discounted 13-minute commercial for a small fraction of what corporations must pay.

Bravissimo to Usher and the NFL!

New Healthcare High School Coming to Queens: Northwell School Admissions Will Not Be Screened, Will Prioritize Queens Residents

By Celia Bernhardt | 

Rendering of what Northwell School of Health Sciences will look like. Courtesy of School Construction Authority

A new kind of high school is coming to Queens.

Northwell Health and New York City Public Schools announced on Feb. 14 that they plan to collaborate on a first-of-its-kind school designed to prepare students for well-paying jobs in the healthcare field — the Northwell School of Health Sciences. The school is slated to open on Northern Boulevard in Woodside in September 2024.

The high school’s admission process will prioritize Queens residents, and will not use screened admissions, according to a DOE spokesperson. 

Supported by a $2.49 million investment from former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Bloomberg Philanthropies, the school will serve about 900 students at full capacity. Its curriculum will be co-developed by Northwell and the NYC Public Schools, and is set to include specialized healthcare coursework, work-based learning opportunities, industry-standard training facilities, career mentorship, and opportunities to earn industry certifications and credentials alongside more traditional academic offerings. Freshman and sophomores will have access to job-shadowing programs, while upperclassmen will have the opportunity to complete paid clinical internships. 

Students will be able to specialize in either nursing, diagnostic medicine, physical therapy, or behavioral health. A press release from Northwell stated that these paths were selected based on “the availability of entry-level salaries that either offer a living wage or are a clear steppingstone to living wage positions,” as well as the projected workforce needs in New York’s healthcare industry. The idea is to graduate students directly into high-demand, family-sustaining jobs, while also creating a talent pipeline to address healthcare workforce shortages—New York is expected to face a shortage of 40,000 nurses by 2030, according to Northwell, and the healthcare sector accounts for 20% of the city’s ecnooomy. 

The new  Woodside school is one of ten that Bloomberg plans to open in urban and rural areas throughout the nation. A $250 million initiative overall, the organization is set to launch healthcare career-training high schools in Boston, Charlotte, Dallas, Durham, Houston, Nashville, Philadelphia, Demopolis, and Northeast Texas. The schools should seat approximately 6,000 students all together. 

“For too long, our education system has failed to prepare students for good jobs in high-growth industries,” said Bloomberg. “By combining classroom learning with hands-on experience, these specialized health-care high schools will prepare students for careers with opportunities for growth and advancement. America needs more health care workers, and we need a stronger, larger middle-class — and this is a way to help accomplish both goals.”

3-Alarm Maspeth Fire Injures Seven

By Celia Bernhardt |

A three-alarm fire broke out in Maspeth on Monday, displacing families from a two-story residential building on 60th Rd between Mt. Olivet Crescent and Fresh Pond Road. 

The FDNY received the call at 11:52 a.m. The blaze spread from its source to a connected home, doing major damage to both properties. It took a crew of 140 about an hour and a half to get the blaze under control.

A mother and two children were briefly trapped in one of the homes before being rescued by firefighters.

Five residents and two firefighters sustained minor injuries, including one firefighter who fell into the basement of the house as the floor partially collapsed. All were sent to local hospitals for evaluation as a precaution except one resident, who refused medical attention. 

The Red Cross was on the scene, as well as Assemblyman Juan Ardila, the NYPD, and other agencies. 

Credit: Celia Bernhardt

FDNY Deputy Chief of the 14th Division Mark Cuccurullo said that lithium-ion batteries were present on the scene, but had been kept in the backyard, outside of the home. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

“Fire Marshals haven’t determined the cause of it. They’ve ruled out that it was a lithium battery,” Cuccurullo said. 

He explained that the investigation would involve draining the basement of excess water used to quell the flames before determining the source of the fire.

15-year-old Brianna Paguay, who lives close to the impacted homes, said her aunt was among those who lived in the building. 

“She’s kind of sad, crying, because of her stuff. We had money in there also, like over $50,000 in cash,” Paguay said. “And all of that got burnt down. All of the clothing, shoes, all of that.”

Interim Chief Executive Officer for the Greater New York Red Cross Celena Sarillo said that her team was working on identifying people’s needs. 

“We’ll be able to help them with a place to stay, possibly some other types of financial assistance, you know, some comfort kits that just have the basic needs — people that clearly ran out of the home have absolutely nothing and left with nothing. So just trying to even give them their toothbrush, soap, you know, so other things that they might need for the few days ahead of them,” Sarillo said. “It is usually immediate, temporary assistance. We hope to at least be able to give people that first or second day of help until they can find a long term housing solution.”

Credit: Celia Bernhardt

Paguay said her aunt had only lived in the house for a couple months after moving from further East in the borough. “Now she has to look for a new place…She moved over here because she thought, ‘Nice neighborhood,” Paguay said. “Material is material, you can get new clothing and stuff like that. But it’s just the money we had there, it’s a bunch of money and it’s all gone. It’s their savings from their hard work.” 

35-year-old Esthefanie Giordano, who lives a block away from the impacted houses, said she made sure to touch base with some of the families impacted by the fire. 

“I’m just connecting with them because they are Latin, as I am as well. They didn’t speak English — at least this family doesn’t. So I just wanted to connect them with a bunch of resources.” 

Giordano told the Queens Ledger over email that Assemblyman Juan Ardila had created a WhatsApp group with the affected families, and advised those interested in donating to contact him. 

A GoFundMe for one affected family, the Pazminos, had collected $3,190 out of its $50,000 goal at press time. 

“I think the community— I think we’re in need of another fire workshop,” Giordano said. “These are old houses, so they tend to be very flammable.”

“Always keep a lookout, you know, you never know when you could come of use and of assistance to others,” she added. “This can happen to literally anyone and everyone.”

Update: A new GoFundMe was created by Esperanza de Vida Church to provide support to all families affected. As of Thursday, Feb. 22, $1,390 of its’ $50,000 goal was raised.

Credit: Celia Bernhardt

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