VERZUZ BATTLE
HEATS UP

Insiders say Verzuz's battle to land Timbaland and Swizz Beatz is heating up just as its deal with Apple is expiring. Streamers and other platforms are pursuing the hot brand, which has exploded during the pandemic.

Verzuz was initially aired on Instagram Live via the combatants' personal accounts. It subsequently upped its production values, hammering out a deal that involved not only Insta but Apple Music and Twitter, to fully integrate the fan experience, which encompasses conversation and catalog access, for a musical event unlike any other.

Verzuz viewership reached new heights during the battle between Atlanta legends Gucci Mane and Jeezy, which set a company record, with more than 9m viewers tuning in across multiple platforms. Keyshia Cole v. Ashanti saw a new peak for the Instagram livestream, reaching more than 6m viewers.

The brand has expanded across genres and borders, presenting heavyweights like Brandy v. Monica, Beanie Man v. Bounty Killer, Gladys Knight v. Patti LaBelle, a recent NFL collaboration and the upcoming D'Angelo v. Friends concert event at the Apollo Theater.

Expect a mega-bucks deal to close soon; some are betting that Jimmy Iovine lends an assist to help Apple enact a new pact with the franchise, which plans to expand into touring, sports and comedy.

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