Instead of heavily focusing on the game and providing stats, Nick talked about players’ favorite school lunches and video games. Vendors were seen selling Krabby Patties in the concourse of AT&T Stadium, and the end zones were filled with CGI-slime after each touchdown in the game.ne of the craziest endings to a playoff game in recent memory – all that is a little much for a broadcast designed to be less complex.
Over 30 million people watched the Cowboys and 49ers square off Sunday evening and listened as Jim Nantz and Tony Romo called the traditional broadcast on CBS.
But 2 million more people never heard Nantz’s soothing voice and Romo’s everlasting flair. Instead, those viewers were invited to slime monsters taking over the field, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle-reenactments of the game and Spongebob’s face inside the field goal posts during kicks.
The Wild Card on Nickelodeon returned for a second season after its inaugural production a year ago for the Saints and Bears playoff game, offering a family-friendly, less serious style in attempt to introduce new fans, particularly kids, to the game of football.
Like the New Orleans-Chicago game, the alternate Dallas-San Francisco broadcast quickly became a meme, as Barstool’s Big Cat once again convinced the internet to vote for the losing quarterback as NVP (Nickelodeon’s Most Valuable Player) when Dak Prescott won by a landslide. (https://twitter.com/BarstoolBigCat/status/1482862672731324419?s=20).
But the production was no joke to ViacomCBS, which owns both CBS and Nickelodeon. The Saints-Bears game was CBS’s largest audience for a Sunday Wild Card playoff game in seven years, if you account for both the CBS and Nickelodeon broadcasts. The game was also the most viewed program on Nick in the last four years. And the viewership of the Cowboys-49ers game was projected to be even larger.
Clippers play-by-play announcer Noah Eagle and former NFL wide receiver Nate Burleson were joined alongside Nick star Gabrielle Nevaeh Green to bridge the gap for younger NFL fans. Eagle described what was happening in the game in a kid-friendly style without oversimplifying, while Burleson gave color commentary by relating 3rd down opportunities to a pop-quiz and red zone appearances to a test in school.
Sixteen-year-old Green, who played the role of a new fan to the NFL, asked Eagle and Burleson questions about the game that newer fans watching may have shared during the program.
Instead of heavily focusing on the game and providing stats, Nick talked about players’ favorite school lunches and video games. Vendors were seen selling Krabby Patties in the concourse of AT&T Stadium, and the endzones were filled with CGI-slime after each touchdown in the game.
With the game’s continued success on the iconic children’s channel, we should get a new NVP for years to come.
However, I thought the Nick broadcast this year was a little weaker than the inaugural production last season for a couple of reasons.
The first is that the novelty is diminished. Viewers really had no idea what to expect from the broadcast last year, and most were pleasantly surprised. But the only real edition to this year’s game was the added slime monster before drives would start. So people knew what to expect this year, and it was pretty much the same experience as last year.
The only other big difference this year was that the Cowboys-49ers game was close, unlike the Saints-Bears blowout. Which leads to the second reason: Nickelodeon’s broadcast works better when the game isn’t good.
When New Orleans beat up on Chicago 21-9, the broadcasters had time to go into conversation and talk about Mitchell Trubisky’s favorite subject in school and what Spongebob character he would be if they wanted to, because that was more interesting than the game.
But when the Cowboys had a chance to come back and win when they were down by six after holding the 49ers to a 4th-and-inches on a remeasurement, and Prescott arguably blew his team’s chances when he didn’t give the umpire the football after a quarterback run to end the game in one of the craziest endings to a playoff game in recent memory – all that is a little much for a broadcast designed to be less complex.
But at the end of the day, the broadcast was successful for a second straight season, so we should see the return of the NFL on Nickelodeon next season.