NFL on Nickelodeon NFL on Nickelodeon

Super Bowl LVIII will be simulcast on Nickelodeon on Feb. 11, the NFL and CBS announced Tuesday morning on CBS Mornings.

In our February 2023 members-only newsletter, we highlighted three animation stories that we planned on keeping a close eye on in 2023. One of those was the crossover between the worlds of major American sports broadcasts and animation.

What will a Super Bowl on Nickelodeon look like? Details about the Super Bowl broadcast are still scant, but in a release Paramount did say the event will feature “next-level, eye-popping on-field graphics, guest reporters, virtual filters, and more.” Based on previous games, audiences can probably expect plenty of slime and appearances from Nick catalog characters.

Animation and the NFL: In January of 2021, Nickelodeon aired an NFL game as part of a youth-focused presentation of that year’s NFC Wild Card playoff game between the Saints and the Bears. There had, of course, been animated clips and bumpers in NFL games before then and Fox has had an animated robot as its NFL broadcast mascot since the 2005-2006 season. But the Nickelodeon game felt revolutionary in its execution and for the fact that it was on a network that features kids and family content. There have been other NFL on Nickelodeon broadcasts since, including on Christmas of last year when the Broncos played the Rams, but the Super Bowl is a whole new level for the network.

What other sports have used animation to appeal to younger audiences? This past season, we saw an expansion of the animation-sports hybridization in the NBA, when characters from Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans Go! hosted a special presentation of the NBA Slam Dunk Competition featuring popular Warner Bros. Discovery characters. Again, sports and animation have been mixed before at WBD; they’ve made two Space Jam movies. But a dedicated broadcast themed around Teen Titans Go! felt like a major shift in a new direction. Disney – which owns ESPN – and the NHL then broadcast a hockey game featuring live, real-time volumetric animation of players and teams modeled after characters from the show Big City Greens. The animated version of that game was broadcast live on ESPN+, Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Disney+.

Why are leagues doing this? The reasoning behind the phenomenon seems clear enough: appeal to young people who aren’t necessarily interested in sports by attaching cartoons to sporting events. Extra channels and new audiences can also create new advertising opportunities, although Paramount and Nick have not yet indicated if they will be selling a separate ad package for the kid-friendly broadcast or if they will use the same commercials as the CBS broadcast.

What are they saying? Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon president and CEO Brian Robbins said in a release:

As we’ve shown with our prior zeitgeist-busting Wild Card and Nickmas coverage, combining the absolute excitement of NFL action with the creativity that can only come from Nickelodeon’s cool POV makes for a must-see event for kids and families everywhere.

Hans Schroeder, NFL executive vice president of media distribution, added:

Our previous telecasts on Nickelodeon have been huge hits and created a new and different way to experience an NFL game. We’re excited to bring that creativity to Super Bowl LVIII and give our fans another way to enjoy one of the world’s most popular sporting events.

Super Bowl Nickelodeon

Pictured at top: Screenshot of last season’s Nickelodeon Super Wild Card Weekend

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