UPDATE: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick claims he was fined $10,000 by the NFL for wearing Beats by Dre headphones after a game. Kaepernick said he has been wearing the pink headphones to raise awareness for breast cancer.
Don’t expect to see America’s most popular headphones on the sidelines or in the locker rooms of America’s most popular sport. In a move that looks to challenge Beats by Dre’s place atop the premium headphones throne, the NFL reached an agreement with Bose back in August to stamp that company’s products as the official headphones of the league. However, Beats by Dre headphones were still popping up during NFL broadcasts. As part of the new agreement, Beats by Dre headphones must now be out of sight whenever NFL cameras are around.
According to Recode, Beats by Dre accounts for 61 percent of all $100+ headphones sales, with Bose running a distant second at 22 percent, but Bose’s presence in millions of living rooms every Sunday due to the NFL deal could tighten that gap. The deal isn’t expected to impact Beats’ promotional deals with NFL Pro Bowlers like Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton, but those quarterbacks won’t be allowed to don the Apple headphones during post-game interviews (like Richard Sherman in this Beats commercial) or any other NFL-affiliated events.
Kaepernick in particular is among the major faces of Beats, with the San Francisco 49ers quarterback appearing in an Aloe Blacc-soundtracked ad for the headphones. The Bose deal does make it unlikely that Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine will be invited back to the sidelines at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field again. For their part, Bose has adopted the slogan “Official sound of the NFL” and recruited Russell Wilson and Clay Matthews to wear their headphones.
The Beats banishment isn’t the first time football and music has intersected this season. In August, it was revealed that the NFL was asking potential Super Bowl halftime performers to provide the league with a percentage of future tour earnings if they wanted the coveted spot during the big game. The “pay-for-play” plan was immediately slammed by the music industry.
Then, in the aftermath of the Ray Rice domestic-abuse scandal, CBS nixed and then rescheduled Rihanna’s planned pregame performance of “Run This Town,” which many – including Rihanna – viewed as the network punishing a victim of domestic abuse. “CBS, you pulled my song last week, now you wanna slide it back in this Thursday No, fuck you! Y’all are sad for penalizing me for this,” Rihanna tweeted at the time. “The audacity…”
Beats headphones aren’t the only Apple products banned from NFL sidelines. This summer, the league struck a deal with Microsoft to ensure that NFL teams only use Surface tablets – and not iPads – on the sidelines when reviewing plays. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer orchestrated the five-year deal between Microsoft and the NFL. Ballmer is now the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers and has adopted a similar “No Apple” stance for that franchise.