The NFL Wild Card Game is usually the lowest priority for playoffs watchers, but now it’s sunk all the way to Bikini Bottom. The NFL announced that the famous Nickelodeon cartoon character would be a key part of the game's broadcast on his home network.
Nickelodeon is planning to air a kid-friendly version of the playoff game on Jan. 10, complete with green slime, animated graphics, and color commentary from stars of the channel’s sketch series All That. “Everything from just the attitude to the talent to the graphics packages is going to have a kid’s point of view and a Nick point of view, and we are really going to try to create a new experience for kids and parents,” Brian Robbins of Nickelodeon’s parent company ViacomCBS told Variety.
The industry trade reports that the gambit is a way to woo the NFL as it nears the end of its current broadcast rights contracts. In 2022, the NFL will have to decide which networks own the rights to which games. Trying new ways to expand the viewership of a given game is sure to be factored in.
“When we approached the NFL about getting the rights for this Wild Card, we were trying to show them how we could reach a new and younger audience, which is one of the main priorities of the NFL,” CBS Sports’ Sean McManus explained.
In addition to the cartoon sponge, the Wild Card Game will feature commentary from All That’s Gabrielle Nevaeh Green and sideline reporting from her co-star Lex Lumpkin. The play-by-play duties will be carried by the professionals, CBS Sports’ Noah Eagle and Nate Burelson.
While all that might look good to the NFL, the reaction on Twitter was a little more mixed.