If ESPN hopes to build the college football National Championship into a Super Bowl-like spectacle, the first thing it needs is a culturally relevant halftime show. So on Tuesday, the network announced that Grammy-winning, critically acclaimed rapper Kendrick Lamar will perform an offsite show during intermission of the College Football Playoff title game, to be broadcast live on the network. It will be the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship halftime performance.
“In each year of the College Football Playoff, we’ve been able to build upon the experience of the last,” ESPN excecutive Ed Erhardt said in a statement. “This year is a true first for college football – and it makes sense that the hottest performer of the moment, Kendrick Lamar, would usher in this new era for the national championship game.”
In September, Entertainment Tonight reported that Taylor Swift would perform the halftime show, prompting a denial from ESPN. With Tuesday’s announcement, it seems safe to say ET’s report was in fact incorrect.
Kendrick might not be the safest choice for a halftime performer (He’s not exactly popular with the Fox News crowd), but he’s an exciting artist who’s beloved by the younger audiences networks hope to court. He gives the College Football Playoff National Championship the pop culture cachet ESPN seems to be chasing.
Kendrick will perform not from inside Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the game will be held, but from nearby Centennial Olympic Park in a free, non-ticketed event. The College Football Playoff National Championship will kick off at 8 p.m. ET on Monday, January 8.