Music Business

Sunday Night Football and Carrie Underwood


Sunday Night Football and Carrie Underwood
$1 Million Per Week

Posted by Charlie Recksieck on 2023-12-19
A few weeks ago I got a text from my buddy and sometime musical collaborator Spud Davenport about Carrie Underwood and the Sunday Night Football song.

Spud soft-pedalled it by $1,000,000 - there's an extra week of regular season in the NFL these days so there are 18 Sunday night games in the regular season so Carrie's pre-playoffs haul is $18 million. But what's an extra million here or there.

The Song

Starting in 2006, NBC took over Sunday Night Football from ESPN and made the Sunday evening game THE marquee football game of the week - previously it was Monday Night Football on ABC. They needed a theme song and the current incarnation started when Pink reworked the lyrics for the Joan Jett song "I Hate Myself For Loving You."

Pink was the singer for the SNF opening for year, followed by Faith Hill from 2007-2012, both singing the reworked "Waiting All Day For Sunday Night" theme. Then Carrie Underwood was brought in for the 2013 season and has been going ever since. They tried new songs 2016-to-2018 but reverted to "Waiting All Day For Sunday Night" during the 2019 season.


Yes indeed, Carrie Underwood gets $1 million per week.

As for the original songwriters Joan Jett and Desmond Child, I think Spud's "$272,000 a season" figure is from a few years back (they may make more now, I only went so far down the research rabbit hole today). Here's some info on Joan's history with the song.

When it comes to Pink who adapted the original for Sunday Night Football in 2016, it's unclear what her credits are for this one. And who knows what backroom deals got agreed to when you're talking about something as big as the theme for football.

The Monday/Sunday Night Football Slot

I've already written a crazy amount about football broadcast music. In there you'll notice that I named the original Monday Night Football theme as the #1 most iconic football broadcast music. If you're over 40 and love sports, this is pure mainlined nostalgia:

1. Monday Night Football theme ("Heavy Action")
But Hank Williams, Jr. was the OG country signer to corner the market on televised football with "Are You Ready For Some Football" and "All My Rowdy Friends" since the 1990's. Country music and football are a perfect match and perhaps even more so as blue-states slightly skew away from football over the years; but I do mean "slightly". Football is the closest thing we have to a national religion in this country, IMO.

Performer To Songwriter Ratio

There's no easy answer for how much a songwriter gets paid if a performer makes X amount of money for their version. There are standard royalty percentages to songwriters/publishers for certain uses; network TV use is worth X based on prominence and length, worth a different Y on basic

cable. Someday I'll write a post here walking through a sad ASCAP songwriters royalty report for me for fractional dollars for various media uses. But let's stick with this outdated ratio of songwriters getting about 4.5% of the money from a record sale (link ). Again, that's on record sales (remember those?). Each platform pretty much has its own terms.

In Spud's original math, the ratio was about 68 to 1 for Carrie Underwood vs. the songwriters; we haven't checked the actual amounts, but if even halfway true that's pretty nuts.

That said, do you know why movie stars get $10m or $20m to star in a movie? Because that movie star puts people in seats and it's worth it. Same goes for athletes. Remove all of that max-salary players from the NBA and how much does viewership drop off: 20 to 80%?

It's not about worth and who contributed what percentage to a song's success. The market really decided who gets the money.

What Do You Think?

Is that $1 million a week figure startling? Are you as shocked as Spud and I by the disparity between performers and songwriters? Any opinion? Let us know.