Only a few minutes after the pop superstar’s electrifying performance, which included a Destiny’s Child reunion, dazzling visual effects and light displays, and a medley of solo hits such as “Single Ladies” and “Crazy in Love,” about half of the lights at the 73,000-seat Superdome suddenly went out.
New Orleans is nothing if not a city used to running on generators, and there was sufficient backup power available to keep some of the lights on in the stadium. Nevertheless, the outage was extensive enough to temporarily disrupt the audio on CBS’ broadcast.
Announcers Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were cut off for most of the 34-minute blackout, leaving sideline reporter Steve Tasker to explain the situation to viewers (he described it as a “click of the lights”). While players from the Ravens and the 49ers tried to stay limber on the field, host James Brown helped fill the dead air with analysis of the game so far.
Power eventually returned at 7:58 p.m. local time, with play resuming at 8:10.
Jennifer Sabatelle, vice president of CBS Sports, issued a statement Sunday evening: “Immediately after the power failure in the Superdome, we lost numerous cameras and some audio powered by sources in the Superdome.” Sabatelle also stressed that “all commercial commitments during the broadcast are being honored” and that “at no time did we leave the air.”
The outage, arriving as it did so soon after Beyonce’s scorching halftime show, prompted lots of jokes on Twitter. (“The lesson here is never follow Beyonce,” “Just plug a generator into Beyonce’s hips. Problem solved,” “IF YOU LIKED IT YOU SHOULD'VE PUT A BACKUP GENERATOR ON IT.”)
Alas, it appears that human error, rather than the divine power of Queen Bey, was to blame for the outage. Although neither the NFL nor the Superdome provided an immediate explanation for the incident, the blackout appeared to be limited to the arena and on CBS, Brown indicated that a power surge was to blame.
According to USA Today, a fire alarm went off in the press box in a hallway in the upper level of the stadium shortly after Beyonce's halftime set.
Philip Allison, a spokesman for Entergy New Orleans, told the Associated Press that all the feeds into the Superdome were operating as expected and that the blackout was most probably the result of improperly maintained equipment at the venue.
In other words, somebody seriously dropped the ball.