The NFL aired the matchup on two simultaneous broadcasts, one on CBS and another on the children’s channel, Nickelodeon. The Nickelodeon broadcast was specially designed to introduce the professional sport to younger audiences.
What made Nickelodeon telecast different?
ESPN reports that Nickelodeon brought in a special trio of commentators who explained rules, game mechanics and jargon for viewers who were watching football for the first time.
The booth consisted of former NFL wide receiver Nate Burleson, Nickelodeon star Gabrielle Nevaeh Green, 15, and sports broadcaster Noah Eagle.
Eagle described the play-by-play action, Green offered insights and asked questions as a stand-in for viewers unfamiliar with the sport, and Burleson broke down the more complicated aspects of the game into understandable terms.
“When a flag is on the ground, usually someone messed up” Burleson explained, via ESPN. The former wide receiver also likened a coach’s challenge to a “double dare” against the referees.
In addition to specialized commentary, Sporting News reports the game was filled with colorful animation, including an orange and green first-down line, virtual slime cannons that erupted after touchdowns, and SpongeBob Squarepants adorned goal posts.
The game also included some new traditions for future Nickelodeon-NFL broadcasts. Fans voted for the first-ever NVP (Nickelodeon Valuable Player) award, which was given to Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky, and the Saints head coach, Sean Payton, actually acquiesced to having a bucket of slime poured on him after his team won, The Verge reports.
Did people enjoy it?
While no official viewing data has been released by ViacomCBS (Nickelodeon’s parent company), the game was the object of fascination on Twitter.
Fans, media personalities and former players alike flooded the site with overwhelmingly positive messages regarding the telecast.
My son loves @Nickelodeon but has never sat and watched a football game with me UNTIL today... I appreciate Nick introducing our kids to the game in a fun & entertaining way!! pic.twitter.com/Ofru2DfZbq— Kurt Warner (@kurt13warner) January 10, 2021
After the game’s conclusion, Sport’s Illustrated’s Conor Orr wrote that the Nickelodeon broadcast displayed a “lightness” and “palpable friendliness” that reminded him of “the reasons we enjoyed watching sports in the first place.” In his eyes, the game showed the game of football in its “purest and most innocent form.”
No announcements have been made regarding any future Nickelodeon-NFL collaborations, but don’t be surprised if the slime cannons make a follow-up appearance in 2022.