YouTube will offer a halftime show during the Super Bowl featuring some of its biggest online stars, part of a broader initiative to promote advertisements on the Google-owned video site.
Harley Morenstein, the ringleader of food stunt group EpicMealTime, will host the program featuring musical performances and stunts, while others will produce fake Super Bowl ads. The show will stream live on YouTube during the game, which airs Feb. 1 on NBC.
YouTube officials said that the growing profile of online stars such as Freddie Wong, whose main channel has more than 7.4 million subscribers, and Toby Turner will help them vie for attention with Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz, NBC’s halftime performers.
More than 60 million people subscribe to the channels of the participating YouTube creators, some of whom YouTube has been promoting on billboards in major cities.
“It’s a really good place to showcase our celebrities, our talent and our creators,” said Suzie Reider, managing director of brand solutions at Google. “It will be fun afterwards to see what was Freddie Wong’s draw compared to Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz.”
YouTube will produce the program with Collective Digital Studio, a Los Angeles online video network that features many of the online stars.
Reider described the show as counterprogramming to what will be on TV, designed to appeal to viewers who care more about the ads than the game.
This will be the seventh year that YouTube, which faces competition for video advertising from Facebook and Twitter, has mounted AdBlitz, a special channel hosting Super Bowl ads where people can vote for their favorites.
Advertisers give YouTube teasers of many of the spots in advance and then release the full versions after the ads air during the Super Bowl. People spent 6.3 million hours watching last year’s Super Bowl ads on YouTube, the company said.
Interest in advertising and the large, passionate fan bases for creators such as Wong and Morenstein will draw viewers before, during and after the Super Bowl, Reider said. Even if people don’t tune into the live stream, they can watch the ads — fake and real — for weeks on end.