Why MTV hasn’t produced Super Bowl half-time shows since 2004

Super Bowl XXXVIII: Panthers v Patriots

Before Pepsi (and now Apple Music), the Super Bowl had countless sponsors and producers. The big game has been a major event for years, bringing in money and adding value with massive halftime shows. However, some Super Bowl performances brought along more issues than one would have liked.

One such performance was the 2004 half-time show for the Carolina Panthers vs. New England Patriots game, featuring P. Diddy, Kid Rick, Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. Not only did the controversy blow up, but it also put the words ‘wardrobe malfunction’ out there for everyone to learn.

Since then, MTV has never produced a Super Bowl half-time show.

Timberlake and Jackson at the half-time show
Timberlake and Jackson at the half-time show

Jackson was performing her song ‘Rhythm Nation’, following which Timberlake joined her and performed his song ‘Rock Your Body’, which resulted in Timberlake ripping off Jackson’s rubber bustier and exposing her right breast in the process.

Janet seemed shocked at the action and covered up while the camera panned to a stadium shot. The incident blew up instantly, with many seeing the stunt as part of their premediated plan for publicity. Others noticed the red fabric underneath, which was probably supposed to stay on.

Soon after the performance, Timberlake had an interesting take on the matter. Timberlake told Access Hollywood:

“Hey man, we love giving you all something to talk about”

The situation ultimately got worse after the Super Bowl wrapped up.

NFL executives, CBS point fingers at the Super Bowl incident

Needless to say, many people (including viewers) were left disappointed. Jackson was asked to apologize, while Timberlake provided an apology much later.

Timberlake and Jackson at the half-time show
Timberlake and Jackson at the half-time show

NFL executive vice president Joe Browne said:

“We were extremely disappointed by elements of the MTV-produced halftime show. They were totally inconsistent with assurances our office was given about the content of the show”

CBS revealed that there were no indications of such a move before the performance. MTV, the producer, agreed with this:

“The tearing of Janet Jackson’s costume was unrehearsed, unplanned, completely unintentional and was inconsistent with assurances we had about the content of the performance.”

Apologies by Janet Jackson and Timberlake after the Super Bowl debacle

One day after the incident, Jackson (as told by CBS), apologized.


“The decision to have a costume reveal at the end of my halftime show performance was made after final rehearsals. MTV was completely unaware of it. It was not my intention that it go as far as it did. I apologize to anyone offended – including the audience, MTV, CBS and the NFL.”

Timberlake offered no video statement, but did apologize in another statement:

“I know it’s been a rough week on everybody. What occurred was unintentional, completely regrettable, and I apologize if you guys were offended.”


When speaking to KCBS about it being a publicity stunt, Timberlake denied.

Later, in 2007, he acknowledged that Jackson was unfairly blamed for the situation and accepted that he should have handled it better. In 2009, he added to the apology, stating that he regrets not supporting Jackson better.

Though the situation eventually fizzled out, MTV is yet to return and host a Super Bowl. After a bunch of other sponsors, Pepsi signed a 10-year deal in 2013.

This year, Apple Music will be sponsoring the show. Rihanna, who last performed ‘Wild Thoughts’ at the 2018 Grammys, will be headlining the show scheduled for February 12 at the State Farm Stadium.

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