Fans of college football have probably noticed that ESPN’s coverage of the opening weekend of action has prominently featured the new music of Taylor Swift. Swift’s first single, “Look What You Made Me Do” has been nearly ubiquitous across all ESPN platforms during the first weekend of the season and her second single, “Ready For It,” was previewed for the first time during ABC’s telecast of Alabama-Florida State on Saturday night. The next morning, fans finally got “…Ready For It,” which didn’t cause quite the stir that the initial single did, but certainly still elicited a reaction.
For those that may have been confused as to why Swift was the soundtrack for college football on ESPN this season, we now have an explanation. According to Entertainment Tonight, Swift will hold a concert in Atlanta during halftime of the College Football Playoff National Championship game on Jan. 8, 2018, which ESPN holds the broadcast rights to.
“She will headline a concert in Centennial Olympic Park during halftime of the game,” the source says. “It will be a free concert. ESPN has her booked for the event and has a massive deal to release new music from [her upcoming album] Reputation through its college football coverage this season.”
For those unfamiliar with the setup of Atlanta’s stadiums, the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium is a few blocks south of Centennial Olympic Park, so the concert will be separate from the game itself, unlike the Super Bowl halftime show. As to why Swift would be part of a college football halftime show and not the Super Bowl itself, as always, it comes down to sponsorships.
Entertainment Tonight notes that the Super Bowl halftime is sponsored by Pepsi and Swift is sponsored by Coke. Swift also has endorsement deals with UPS and AT&T, which are both major college football sponsors. Per usual, you can simply follow the money to figure out why something is happening that seems otherwise unrelated. In the meantime, Taylor can’t even catch a break at her best friend’s wedding.
Update: According to AP college football reporter Ralph Russo, ESPN has denied Entertainment Tonight’s report as being “inaccurate.”
Calling the report “inaccurate” isn’t necessarily a complete denial that something will happen, but it could be that details in the report are incorrect. So, for those looking into travel in order to make it to the rumored free Taylor Swift show in Atlanta in January, you should probably hold out for an official announcement.