IT’S GOING DOWN… IN THE STANDS!!: Has Halftime Taken A Backseat To The Gym Battle, Zero Quarter, And The 5th?

Is it me or has it gotten more difficult to find halftime footage of college bands on the internet? Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like there is no footage available. With all the media teams and band media sites on the net, there is more halftime footage of bands available now than ever in the history of college bands. So… what gives?

If you know anything about algorithms, tags, and search engine results then you know that what ever is typed or searched the most will appear first when someone searches for something. So if I search for NCA&T Marching Band 2018 the search engine will pull the most popular media with those keywords. Since we are nearing the end of the “marching season” shouldn’t there be halfime performances “a- plenty”? Well maybe not … so we found.

We visited the popular media platform Youtube to view it’s search engine results for “(School Name) Marching Band 2018” for 5 Popular bands: Florida A&M, Jackson State, Miles College, NCA&T, and Southern. We totaled the number of halftime shows that were pulled from a small sample, the first 20 clips of each band’s search results. The “results” were surprising.


So overall it appeared that stands footage was more popular than field footage. More youtube viewers click on the stands and BOTB footage from these bands than their halftime clips. This is interesting… Being someone who grew up in the “band tape” era when almost every band tape was of a halftime performance, I didn’t notice this shift in preference until now and it surprised me.

I was not surprised to see more fans appear to prefer FAMU on the field than in the stands compared to other bands. However, I was surprised to see NCA&T’s results considering the popularity of their field shows. Maybe their results were skewed due to a recent BOTB with NSU which was watched by many… But then that still means viewers found the BOTB more interesting than both bands’ halftimes which brings me to the original point. Why is this happening?

Some say it’s because bands are no longer innovating at halftime (except NCA&T… this show is amazing!).

The battle for the crowd’s attention and admiration used to happen at halftime with well designed shows that provided an audience with surprises and thrills as each band tried to “one up” the other. Now the thrill seems to come from figuring out which bands can play the latest songs the loudest. Is this because performances have become “too traditional” in nature? I mean when every audience member knows the three parts of your show and how (and when) you usually execute them, how thrilling can the performance actually be? In those cases it makes sense that the viewers would be more entertained by the heated exchange in the stands. I remember when I was in school we enjoyed performing for other crowds over our home crowd because the reception was always bigger in front of a different audience. Thinking back…. maybe the difference was that our crowd had seen what we do a thousand times and it was always new to others. Maybe we should have innovated at home a bit’ more?

On the other hand, these storied programs still draw huge crowds at performances like The Honda Battle of the Bands and The Queen City Battle of the bands which highlight field show performances.  So maybe I’m just bugging and everything just seems a little “off” this year due to both of those events being canceled? I don’t know… I’m just noticing less halftime footage in feeds and more zero quarter, 5th quarter, stand battles, and hell… even marching in/out videos. Am I alone?

Published by Ernest Stackhouse

-Music Educator -Marching Band Show Design -Musical Arranger -Adjudicator -Fine Arts Administrator -Band Director -Writer

2 thoughts on “IT’S GOING DOWN… IN THE STANDS!!: Has Halftime Taken A Backseat To The Gym Battle, Zero Quarter, And The 5th?

  1. Great article as usual.Part of the problem is the element of surprise that used to be the trademark of a band’s half-time performance. Bands used to do different shows each game and played the hottest tunes in the stands but due to several other issues the bands have seemed to limit their shows to a few shows each season and they play sparingly in the stands during the games if they play at all.

    The 5th quarters,BOTBs,stand battles etc release the bands from time restraints,give them the opportunity to play whatever they wish to play,and they are performing for people who are there strictly for the bands. The reason there are more videos of these activities is the decision of those filming. Maybe the show is already up.Maybe there is a song that is plated outstandingly well.Who knows???

    I am grateful to the people who put these shows on youtube because I get to see almost every band in the country.But not only me but potential recruits. One thing that gets to me is that too many high school bands put more emphasis on the stand stuff than the half-time shows with a lot of them not even doing half-time or not going to every game and performing on the field.Many of these kids dont know anything about marching prior to going to a college pre season drill or summer band camp.

    I dont think half-time is giving way to the stand battles it is just where the directors place their emphasis. And on a side note ,I have never found FAMU boring even in the stands.We used to play marches and classical stuff in the stands during the game in the 70s and 80s.

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