Sunday’s NFL wild-card game between the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears was simulcast by ViacomCBS as a traditional show on CBS and in a new child-friendly format on kids’ channel Nickelodeon. With the youthful, fresh format averaging more than 2m viewers – making it Nickelodeon’s most-watched program in nearly four years.
he simulcast emerged after the pandemic-influenced season saw an additional Wild Card game added to the Playoffs and the CBS/Viacom owned kids broadcaster landed the rights to the new wild card round game after the NFL recognised the potential of a fresh, child-focused broadcast approach to draw in new, younger viewers.
The alternative, parallel broadcast ran alongside the main CBS show and featured guest reporters explaining the rules, plus child-friendly, kids show influenced on-field graphics and virtual filters.
The activation campaign spanned both the league and the child broadcaster channels and featured many of Nickelodeon’s best known programmes, characters and icons ranging from SpongeBob SquarePants to slime cannons detonating after touchdowns..
Co-branded content ran pre-, during and post-game and the tie-up was a hit on social media which various content pieces going viral across social platforms.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) January 10, 2021
— NFL (@NFL) January 10, 2021
“Nickelodeon’s broadcast of the wild card game was one of the greatest moments in the history of Nickelodeon,” said Nickelodeon Network President Brian Robbins (who added that the NFL itself was ‘thrilled’ with the initiative).
Nickelodeon’s NFL broadcast draws more than 2m viewers and the traditional version of the game on CBS drew 28.6m viewers: bringing total game viewership to over 30 million.
Last year’s comparable Wild-Card game drew 35.1m viewers on NBC.
While viewership for league’s expanded six-game wild card round down 21% on 2020.
The one-off innovation might be a sign to a positive way forward for the NFL which is both looking to ‘get younger’ and sell the next round of domestic media rights.