Is the NFL Grasping for Views With Nickelodeon Collaboration?

by Josh Lanier

Many NFL fans were left scratching their heads after the league announced Nickelodeon would broadcast a playoff game this season. That’s because league officials said the Jan. 10, 2021 Wildcard game will feature virtual slime in the endzones, Googly Eyes, and will have commentators discussing Spongebob Squarepants’ athleticism during the pregame show.

CBS released a trailer showing what it will look like. It includes instant replays with players looking like characters from Minecraft.

It seems clear that the NFL is trying to find ways to staunch the bleeding after a season of disappointing ratings and falling ad revenues. According to Neilsen data, ratings were down 7 percent across broadcast and cable networks. It’s even worse for the younger demographics.

So, it makes sense for the NFL to reach out to companies that could deliver younger viewers. It’s something that CBS is hopeful about.

“This is going to look different than a normal CBS broadcast, and I think the NFL understands that,” CBS spokesman Sean McManus said of the Nickelodeon broadcast. “They really see the value and are intent on reaching a younger audience. They think that’s where the fans of the future are. The NFL thinks this is a really cool idea.”

But this doesn’t address why ratings are down and why fans may be turning the channel. The COVID-19 pandemic is a driving factor. NFL players taking political stands and taking a knee during the national anthem may have turned off some fans.

Some say the NFL partnering with Nickelodeon is the league looking for new viewers while ignoring the current ones.

Hopefully, next season won’t be plagued with heated political debates and a pandemic. That way the NFL will be able to determine if the drop in fans is permanent or just a feature of an awful year.

Nickelodeon Announces Who Will Call the Game

Nickelodeon said Noah Eagle, the voice of the LA Clippers, will provide play-by-play from the Nickelodeon booth. CBS’ Nate Burleson and Nickelodeon’s Gabrielle Nevaeh will give analysis. Nickelodeon star Lex Lumpkin will be the game’s sideline reporter.

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller will host a pregame show called the “SpongeBob SquarePants Countdown Special.”