Sunday, January 10, 2021

CBS Sports and Nickelodeon Team up for 'NFL Wild Card Game on Nickelodeon'; To Feature 'Kamp Koral' Sneak Peek

CBS Sports and Nickelodeon Team up for NFL Wild Card Game on Nickelodeon, Special Slime-filled Telecast Tailored for Family Fun Airing Sunday, Jan. 10

Noah Eagle, CBS Sports’ Nate Burleson and Nick Star Gabrielle Nevaeh Green to Call Game, with Nick Star Lex Lumpkin Reporting

Kid-Focused Presentation of NFL Wild Card Game to Feature Special Halftime Sneak Peek of Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years

Share it: @Nickelodeon @CBSSports #NickWildCard

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.--Dec. 15--CBS Sports and Nickelodeon are getting kids and families into the game with a special slime-filled presentation of the National Football League’s Wild Card game on Sunday, Jan. 10, at 4:30 p.m. (ET). The NFL Wild Card Game on Nickelodeon will feature one-of-a-kind kid-focused content and Nick-themed elements throughout, including a special halftime presentation, guest reporters and original on-field graphics, virtual filters and more. The NFL Wild Card Game on Nickelodeon will air alongside CBS Sports’ broadcast of the game on The CBS Television Network.

Update (1/4/21) - The game will be between the New Orleans Saints and the Chicago Bears!

Play-by-play announcer Noah Eagle will be joined by CBS Sports’ analyst Nate Burleson and Nick star Gabrielle Nevaeh Green (All That, Nickelodeon’s Unfiltered) in the booth to call the NFL Wild Card Game on Nickelodeon. Additionally, Nick star Lex Lumpkin (All That, Nickelodeon’s Unfiltered) ­­­will serve as a reporter during the game. Nickelodeon’s coverage begins with “The SpongeBob SportsPants Countdown Special,” a sports-themed compilation special at 4 p.m. (ET) hosted by the Denver Broncos’ Von Miller, highlighting SpongeBob’s best sports moments and featuring pre-kickoff appearances by CBS Sports’ Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, as well as Eagle, Burleson and Green.

The NFL Wild Card Game on Nickelodeon will also include a special halftime sneak peek of Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years, which follows 10-year-old SpongeBob SquarePants and his pals as they spend their summer building underwater campfires, catching wild jellyfish, and swimming in Lake Yuckymuck at the craziest camp in the kelp forest, Kamp Koral. The series will debut in 2021 on ViacomCBS’s rebranded streaming service Paramount+ and then on Nickelodeon later in the year.

Gabrielle Nevaeh Green

“This is a first of its kind presentation for the NFL together with Nickelodeon, and we are very excited to create a unique telecast that will maximize the co-viewing appeal for kids and families, while maintaining the integrity of the game and its traditions,” said Sean McManus, Chairman, CBS Sports. “Partnering with Nickelodeon to showcase the NFL Playoffs is a great opportunity to highlight the power, depth and reach of ViacomCBS, as we continue to unlock the true potential of our merged company with the first of many opportunities between CBS Sports and our ViacomCBS family.”

Lex Lumpkin

“Our game plan is to make sure the NFL Wild Card Game on Nickelodeon definitely lives up to its name by infusing the telecast with Nick’s sensibility of surprise and fun at almost every turn,” said Brian Robbins, President of ViacomCBS Kids & Family Entertainment. “We’re incredibly proud to team up with CBS Sports and the NFL to elevate the thrill of this game for kids and families to enjoy together.”

The NFL Wild Card Game on Nickelodeon will only be available to be streamed on mobile for free for all fans via the NFL App. The game airing on CBS will be streamed on CBS and NFL digital properties across devices, and on mobile via the participating teams’ mobile properties, and Yahoo Sports and other Verizon Media mobile properties.

Noah Eagle will serve as the official online destination for the NFL Wild Card Game on Nickelodeon, helping to educate kids on football basics and entertain them with a variety of NFL-themed content leading up to and during the Wild Card game. Kids will be able to engage with quizzes, polls, fun facts, info galleries, sports-themed short-form videos, Weekly Pick ‘Em printables and more, earning points and unlocking badges along the way. For three days leading up to the game and on game day, viewers can scan QR codes on-air, unlocking sports-themed SpongeBob SquarePants and The Loud House collectibles and participating with interactive content throughout the live game. Additionally, participants will be able to enter a sweepstakes for the chance to win an exclusive game ball signed by a Wild Card player, along with other exclusive prize packs.

Nate Burleson

The NFL Wild Card Game on Nickelodeon is produced by CBS Sports in association with Nickelodeon Productions. Sean McManus and Harold Bryant serve as Executive Producers of THE NFL ON CBS. CBS Sports’ Shawn Robbins is Coordinating Producer of the game along with Producer, Ken Mack and Director, Suzanne Smith. Production for Nickelodeon is overseen by Rob Bagshaw, Executive Vice President, Unscripted Content.

Nickelodeon, now in its 41st year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The brand includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, digital, location based experiences, publishing and feature films. For more information or artwork, visit Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of ViacomCBS Inc. (Nasdaq: VIACA, VIAC).


From the ViacomCBS Newsroom:

A Win-Win


CBS Sports producer Shawn Robbins shares how the network, in partnership with Nickelodeon, created a kid-focused telecast of Sunday's NFL Wild Card Game.

One of this weekend’s National Football League playoff games will feature a star who’s not known for his skills on the football field: SpongeBob SquarePants.

Nickelodeon’s iconic character will appear as part of a set of visual effects in a kid-focused telecast of the NFL Wild Card game between the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, Jan. 10 on Nickelodeon. A separate production of the game will also air simultaneously on CBS. This will be a first-of-its-kind telecast and is an effort to attract a younger and more diverse audience.

“CBS Sports has brought football to audiences everywhere for a long time, but never like this,” says CBS Sports’ Shawn Robbins, coordinating producer of the game. “The kid-focused, Nickelodeon-inspired spin is so fun and unique. The integrity of the game will still be there, but the fact that when a player scores a touchdown it will be in the slime zone, among other surprises, is just super fun.”

In addition to custom on-field graphics inspired by Nickelodeon characters from SpongeBob SquarePants and The Loud House, viewers can expect to see the Mercedes-Benz Superdome end zone convert to a “slime zone” on screen. They can also vote online for their favorite player, who will be awarded the Nickelodeon Valuable Player (NVP) trophy. During the game, All That and Nickelodeon’s Unfiltered stars Gabrielle Nevaeh Green and Lex Lumpkin will be part of the coverage in addition to Los Angeles Clippers radio broadcaster Noah Eagle and CBS Sports’ Nate Burleson. At halftime, the network will preview Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years, which is set to premiere on ViacomCBS’ rebranded streaming service Paramount+ later this year.

Beyond the live game, Nickelodeon launched in December to help educate kids on football basics.  The website features interactive NFL trivia, galleries, videos, downloadable collectibles, including Weekly NickPlay Pick’em printables, and a sweepstakes to win exclusive prizes.

ViacomCBS spoke with Robbins about the challenges of doing animation in real time, what the evolution of virtual production technology means for the future of fan engagement, and how Nickelodeon and CBS Sports worked together to “Nick-ify” this weekend’s simulcast.

Kelby Clark: How will The NFL Wild Card Game on Nickelodeon differ from CBS’ broadcast on Sunday?

Shawn Robbins: A lot of it is really about taking the CBS Sports look and turning it into a Nickelodeon look. We all know CBS Sports’ brand of football is the best in the business, so we translated that into something designed for Nickelodeon audiences.

There are so many graphics that go into a football game, so we got the graphic teams talking to one another last August. They worked to Nick-ify a lot of the visuals, changing the colors and adding fun, custom Nickelodeon filters.

The spin was so fun and unique. We had the opportunity to build this from the ground up alongside our partners at the league.

The traditional game will still air on CBS. But now they have the option to go to Nick and watch with their kids if they want, and they’re still going to get a really good football game out of us. We’re still making sure that the game comes first, even though we’re serving a different audience.

KC: What were the challenges of putting together this special telecast during a global pandemic?

SR: Technology really played a major factor in how we were able to put the show together.

Because we’re working with so many custom visuals, we had to rely on the engineers on both the CBS side and the Nick side to figure out a way to transfer data very, very quickly.

We did a rehearsal during the Eagles-Packers game on Dec. 6, where we set up a full production truck to see how the graphics would look and function during a live game. (Before that, we were looking at graphics against black backgrounds.) We took elements from the Eagles-Packers game on-site and sent them to the Nickelodeon graphics team based in New York. They created high-level graphics and filters, sent them back to us, and we put a package together that we could view against the game in real time. This all happened within about five minutes.

KC: What was it like to work with partners across the ViacomCBS family to plan this experience?

SR: I’m a longtime CBS guy, and I’ve worked on some really big events in my time at the network. This project in particular feels equally as big in a lot of ways. The partnership with Nick opens the door to so much more that we can do together.

A lot of the animation and visuals that we’re trying in the Nick version of this weekend’s game will have a long-lasting effect on future CBS Sports broadcasts. It doesn’t have to be googly eyes, and it doesn’t have to be lightning bolts, but I can definitely see a future where we create high-end custom graphics and use them to enhance a CBS broadcast.

KC: SpongeBob and his pals from Bikini Bottom will feature prominently throughout the game. What’s the iconic character’s appeal for sports families?

SR: I have three kids who are 12, 9, and 7. They’re huge SpongeBob fans. I’ve also actually watched a lot of SpongeBob too. It’s a multigenerational franchise.

When we announced the game back in mid-December, it was fun to read on Twitter what people thought the game was going to look like, and a lot of people were talking about SpongeBob.

It was natural to have SpongeBob be a part of the game, and the team at Nickelodeon created custom, never-seen-before SpongeBob content exclusively for our broadcast.

The franchise, and really, all of Nick’s IP, is just so special. These characters are so relatable to all of us who have grown up with Nickelodeon, and a lot of us now have kids of our own. I remember watching SpongeBob―now I get to share it with my kids.

The NFL Wild Card Game between the Bears and the Saints airs Sunday, Jan. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET on Nickelodeon and CBS. It is also available to stream on mobile for free via the NFL app.


Update (12/19) - Following concerns that may expose children to gambling, NFL and ViacomCBS issued the following statements:

“We have worked (and will continue to) with CBS/Viacom on the elements in and around this game and there is nothing gambling-related or intended,” said Alex Riethmiller, VP of communications for NFL Media.

“We have no other details to announce surrounding the game at this time, but you can keep an eye on in the coming weeks,” said Bailey Knecht, communications coordinator for ViacomCBS.

As Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand explains, the Nickelodeon broadcast will also include slime dumps in the end zone (superimposed on the screen), close-ups of players filtered with googly eyes and other graphics, and animated re-enactments of plays from previous games. CBS provided a sample of what’s to come on Twitter:

"The NFL is very intent on reaching a younger audience, and we thought this would be a great way to do it," CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch. "When we went in to give our pitch to the NFL, this was front and center in that pitch. They loved it right at the outset. I don't know how big a factor it was in us being successful in acquiring the wild-card game, but I think it certainly played a part. We were able to prove to them in a very real and tangible way that we could implement this. It was a fun pitch to make."

“This is going to look different than a normal CBS broadcast, and I think the NFL understands that,” CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus told Sports Business Daily. “They really see the value. They are intent on reaching a younger audience. They think that’s where the fans of the future are. They think this is a really cool idea.”

Designed specifically to appeal to kids and keep them engaged during one of the NFL’s wild-card games, the Nickelodeon broadcast will feature amazing effects like:

- End zones with special graphics that spray virtual green slime on players who score touchdowns;

- Googly eyes or other Snapchat filter effects superimposed onto the faces of players who celebrate or mug for the camera;

- Special graphics and visual effects during plays;

- SpongeBob’s face virtually inserted between the goal posts during field goals;

- A green slime trail behind the football.

Richard Deitsch over at The Athletic clarified that the real-time broadcast will be the same as a standard affair, but the highlight packages will be spiced up with the slime and what have you. So SpongeBob's face will not be between the uprights during a crucial field goal attempt, but he will show up in the highlight cut leading to commercial.

He also asked the question that came to the forefront of everyone's mind when this was first announced: What happens if an injury occurs on the field? It would not be particularly appropriate to slime it up or put googly eyes on everyone as a lineman gets carted off after his leg twisted in the wrong direction. CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus had this to say:

“I trust the men and women in the truck to handle these situations with the sensitivity, and maybe more of a sensitivity in the Nickelodeon telecast,” McManus said. “We can’t predict what’s going to happen. We’re going to cover what takes place on the field. If there’s a way to modify that coverage appropriately, we will do so. The men and women of CBS have dealt with these situations in the past, and I think they will keep their audience in mind when they are documenting what’s happening on the field or off the field.”

From Deadline:

CBS Sports And Nickelodeon Preview Cable Network’s NFL Playoff Game Telecast

CBS Sports and ViacomCBS sibling Nickelodeon have offered a preview of the custom telecast of an NFL wild-card playoff game the kids network will present next month. Bottom line: Viewers opting for that version instead of the regular CBS telecast should expect plenty of Snapchat-like filters, computer animation, on-screen (and on-player) graphics and plenty of other “Nick-ification.”

The booth for the January 10 contest will feature play-by-play announcer Noah Eagle (adult son of CBS announcer Ian Eagle), with Nate Burleson of CBS and Gabrielle Nevaeh Green of Nickelodeon’s All That. Lex Lumpkin, another All That cast member, ­­­will be a reporter during the game.

The telecast, which joins a streaming playoff game that same weekend on NBCUniversal’s Peacock, is part of the NFL’s effort to broaden out to a wider audience. Ratings, while they have slipped 7% in this Covid-19-affected season, remain strong, but the NFL is always looking to shore up as many audience segments as possible. Thursday night games, for example, are not only streamed by Amazon but by its younger-skewing, game-centered platform, Twitch.

The network and the NFL have worked closely before, with Super Bowl activations and a heavy presence by league stars at Nickelodeon’s Kids Choice Awards and a sports-centric offshoot.

Shawn Robbins, a coordinating producer of the game, told Deadline in an interview that the goal is to appeal to both parents and kids. “From the huddle to the whistle, the game will look somewhat the same,” he said, though the down-and-distance marker will be “Nick-ified,” a term he said the production team has used liberally in its internal planning. “We’re not going to mess with your football and put stuff on if that’s going to take away from the viewing experience. This is a co-viewing experience, so we know we’re satisfying the parents and the kids. As soon as that play is over, fair game – you’ll see some fun stuff. We may show you some enhanced replays.”

Surveys have shown that no more than 15 minutes of a typical three-hour NFL telecast are taken up with actual action. The rest of the time is devoted to breaks between plays, penalty calls, time-outs, and other lulls.

Brian Robbins, President of ViacomCBS Kids & Family Entertainment, said the network “jumped at the chance” to mount the alternative telecast. “The big challenge was, ‘How do we make this different?’ That’s where the fun began.”

While fun is a primary goal, CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus is mindful of the realities of broadcasting NFL games during a season with empty stadiums and constant flux due to the pandemic. Asked how the splashy plans could be affected by news of a sudden coronavirus outbreak or other news that merits addressing on-air but is less compatible with bright-green slime, he said it’s a balancing act CBS has faced all year.

“We’re always flexible when it comes to these things,” McManus said. “We’re pretty good at thinking on our feet. If there were a major story, we would adjust and we would tell that story. We try to reflect the appropriate tone in all of our broadcasts.”

He added, “We’re documenting what’s taking place .. and we’ll document it responsibly and in a very creative way.”

The game will be preceded by The SpongeBob SportsPants Countdown Special, a sports-themed compilation special hosted by the Denver Broncos’ Von Miller. Also in the works is a halftime sneak peek of Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years. The spinoff will debut in 2021 on Paramount+, the planned rebrand of CBS All Access, before airing on Nickelodeon later in the year.


How Nickelodeon, CBS Sports Plan to 'Nick-ify' an NFL Playoff Game

The ViacomCBS cable network will simulcast a wild card contest in January with several flourishes aimed at its young audience.

SpongeBob SquarePants will not be calling the NFL wild card game that's set to air on Nickelodeon on Jan. 10. The cable network's longest-running animated star will, however, have a presence during the kid-focused cable network's telecast, which will air alongside CBS' traditional coverage.

The game will feature Nick-inspired graphics — including animated slime in replays of big moments — a SpongeBob-inspired pregame show and Nickelodeon stars Gabrielle Nevaeh Green and Lex Lumpkin (All That) involved in the broadcast — with Green becoming the first woman in the broadcast booth for an NFL playoff game produced by CBS Sports.

The NFL playoffs will expand from 10 to 14 teams this season, meaning two extra games in the wild card round. CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told The Hollywood Reporter that his division wanted to make CBS' pitch for one of the extra games stand out, so CBS Sports teamed up with Nickelodeon. (ESPN is doing something similar with its wild card telecast, offering traditional coverage on ESPN and ABC and alternate feeds and announcing teams on both ESPN2 and Disney's young- and female-skewing cable network Freeform.)

"One of the things we've been telling the NFL is that we are able to reach a broader and more diverse audience now that we're one with Viacom. It's not just the CBS television network anymore, it's all the platforms that come with Viacom," McManus said. "We pitched the idea, and they loved the idea immediately. I think it was a factor in us being able to acquire the game."

Noah Eagle and Nate Burleson will call the game action and will be joined by Green on commentary. Lumpkin will have a role reporting from the sideline — "not a typical sideline role, but he'll lead and tag some fun packages" during the game, coordinating producer Shawn Robbins told THR.

Game action will be called straight, although Eagle and Burleson may do a little more explaining of play calls and rules than they would on a traditional broadcast. Green is there to "be herself," Robbins said: "I'm sure she's a fan and will be a fan in the booth, and if she has questions, we'll answer them."

Replays and the moments coming into and out of commercials will get a Nickelodeon spin, with extra on-screen animation and other enhancements. (Watch a preview below.)

"As plays are happening, they come into the truck and we're then selecting what we want to 'Nick-ify,' is the word we've been using a lot," said Robbins. "So we'll decide what plays we want to Nick-ify. We send them to the Nickelodeon animators in New York. They then send them back to us. It's happening within minutes. So something that may happen early in a series could come back and be on your screen in a bumper to commercial."

ViacomCBS Kids & Family Entertainment president Brian Robbins said for Nickelodeon, an NFL game represents a chance to bring some new viewers, and a lot of kids and parents watching together.

"I think the way we're going about it, which is offering our sensibility up along with the game, should pique the curiosity of kids and families to show up and watch the broadcast that they might not otherwise do," said Brian Robbins (no relation to Shawn). "We have a great pregame show on tap, a whole SpongeBob highlight show, we have a sneak peek at halftime of our new SpongeBob spinoff [Kamp Koral]. So there will be a lot of surprises and cool stuff for the fans."

McManus said the team working the Nickelodeon game did a rehearsal during CBS' coverage of the Green Bay Packers-Philadelphia Eagles game on Dec. 6, "and it looked terrific. It's really forward thinking, really innovative. We're trying to talk about the benefits and strategic plans for the new ViacomCBS, and this is right in that wheelhouse."

Brian Robbins also thinks the producing team will walk a line between drawing in Nick's core audience and satisfying older football fans.

"I think we're paying the utmost respect to the game, first and foremost. We don't want to intrude on that experience," he told THR. "But I can tell you as the father of a 6-year-old girl who's been riding shotgun with me on this whole process, checking out all the graphics and all the plans, she's so excited. I know it's going to be really fun to have her next to me to watch this game together."

[above] is a sizzle reel of some of the "Nick-ified" replays and other enhancements CBS and Nickelodeon will feature.


NFL, Nickelodeon Debuting Kid-Friendly Broadcast For Wild Card Game

End zones will be filled with superimposed slime during next month’s NFL Wild Card game telecast on Nickelodeon. Additionally, when a player mugs for the camera following a big play, cartoonish googly eyes -- or some other Snapchat-type of filter -- will be superimposed onto him during replays. Nickelodeon’s production, which was part of CBS Sports’ winning bid to carry the game, will have a distinctly Nickelodeon look-and-feel -- one that the NFL hopes will have more young viewers sample the game scheduled for Jan. 10 at 4:30pm ET. “This is going to look different than a normal CBS broadcast, and I think the NFL understands that,” said CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus. “They really see the value. They are intent on reaching a younger audience. They think that’s where the fans of the future are. They think this is a really cool idea.”

Noah Eagle will call the game in the Nickelodeon booth, with CBS’ Nate Burleson and Nickelodeon’s Gabrielle Nevaeh providing analysis. Nick’s Lex Lumpkin will be the sideline reporter. Nick’s pregame show will be “The SpongeBob SportsPants Countdown Special” hosted by Broncos LB Von Miller. The halftime show will be a sneak peek of “Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years,” which debuts on Nick later in the year. After a touchdown, the Nickelodeon telecast will cut to an animated SpongeBob and his friend Patrick screaming “Touchdown!” “They are the kinds of things, I imagine, that if all goes well after this broadcast, that you’re going to see on the Internet for days and days to come,” said ViacomCBS Kids & Family Entertainment President Brian Robbins. “They’re really cool visuals.”

Many of the advertisements will be the same across both the CBS and Nickelodeon telecasts, McManus said, though Nick will have some different ads more tailored to its younger audience. CBS Sports’ ad sales team is handling ad sales for both telecasts. Right now, McManus does not anticipate the CBS telecast adding any of the Nickelodeon graphics. “I don’t close any doors,” McManus said. “If there’s some kind of activation graphically that makes sense on CBS, I wouldn’t necessarily say no to it. But right now, it’s planned to be a traditional broadcast.”

CBS and Nickelodeon tested the “Nickified” game during the Dec. 6 Eagles-Packers game. “Something that happens on a previous drive, maybe by the next commercial break we can have that Nickified play come back to the truck,” said CBS Sports Coordinating Producer Shawn Robbins. “That’s what we were testing.” Robbins said the test worked out well, with replays coming back to the production truck quicker than anticipated. “It was the most unique thing I’ve ever seen doing football for a while,” he said. “In realtime, replays were pushed to the Nick animation studio and sent back to the truck.”


NFL on Nickelodeon Will Be Quite a Unique Viewing Experience

True firsts in the broadcasting world are rare, but January 10 will bring such a circumstance when one of the NFL Wild Card games will be dualcast on CBS and Nickelodeon. Yes, Nickelodeon, the cartoon channel made for children yet to reach their teenage years. The NFL announced the arrangement last offseason shortly after they announced they were expanding the playoff format to add one extra wild card team per conference.

Three weeks to the main event, we were given a glimpse of what, exactly, a football broadcast tailored to such a young audience would look like. It's going to be a unique viewing experience unlike any other in the sporting world.

The network also announced Noah Eagle and Nate Burleson would be on the call alongside two Nickelodeon talents, Gabrielle Nevaeh Green and Lex Lumpkin. Lumpkin, only 14-years-old, will be the sideline reporter and if he can put together a good performance he'll have a future in the industry based on the appeal of his name alone.

Richard Deitsch over at The Athletic clarified that the real-time broadcast will be the same as a standard affair, but the highlight packages will be spiced up with the slime and what have you. So SpongeBob's face will not be between the uprights during a crucial field goal attempt, but he will show up in the highlight cut leading to commercial.

He also asked the question that came to the forefront of everyone's mind when this was first announced: What happens if an injury occurs on the field? It would not be particularly appropriate to slime it up or put googly eyes on everyone as a lineman gets carted off after his leg twisted in the wrong direction. CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus had this to say:

“I trust the men and women in the truck to handle these situations with the sensitivity, and maybe more of a sensitivity in the Nickelodeon telecast,” McManus said. “We can’t predict what’s going to happen. We’re going to cover what takes place on the field. If there’s a way to modify that coverage appropriately, we will do so. The men and women of CBS have dealt with these situations in the past, and I think they will keep their audience in mind when they are documenting what’s happening on the field or off the field.”

The NFL nor any of its rights holders have ever tailored a broadcast targeted at such a specific age group. While there will likely be more kids upset that they can't watch their favorite shows for the better part of four hours than kids who will suddenly discover a love of football, it will be very interesting.

[...] the NFL rarely tries new things on premier broadcasts, and it'll be fun to see how this goes.


From Sportico:

CBS Signs SpongeBob SquarePants for NFL Wild Card Game Simulcast on Nickelodeon

Having already earned a spot on CBS’s 53-man roster back in the spring, everyone’s favorite member of the phylum Porifera is now gearing up for the NFL postseason. And while it’s anyone’s guess where they’ll find a helmet that’ll fit his quadrilateral-shaped head, SpongeBob SquarePants will be activated on Wild Card Sunday as part of a scheme designed to introduce the footy-pajamas set to pro football.

In an effort to draw a crowd of younger viewers to its bonus Wild Card game, CBS Sports is working with corporate sibling Nickelodeon to develop a kid-centric simulcast of its opening-round NFL broadcast. Set to air on Sunday, Jan. 10, in the 4:30 p.m. slot, the playoff presentation will get the full pineapple-under-the-sea treatment, one that will include special graphics overlays, a one-of-a-kind halftime performance and a sneak peek at the upcoming CBS All Access/Paramount Plus series Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years.

First announced on March 31, in conjunction with the news that CBS and NBC would each air an additional Wild Card game in 2021, the NFL Wild Card Game on Nickelodeon will feature a standalone booth crew in Noah Eagle, Nate Burleson and rookie broadcaster Gabrielle Nevaeh Green, who stars in the Nick revival series All That. Green’s co-star Lex Lumpkin will prowl the sidelines during the game, which has been scheduled for what’s been the highest-rated time slot of Wild Card Weekend three out of the past four years. NBC last season averaged 35.1 million viewers and a 19.2 household rating in the Sunday 4:30 window, which saw Russell Wilson and the Seahawks beat a banged-up Eagles squad, 17-9.

Speaking Monday afternoon via Zoom, CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said the proposed Nickelodeon simulcast went a long way toward securing one of the bonus Wild Card outings. NFL owners this spring voted to approve the postseason expansion, which bumped the number of playoff teams from 12 to 14 and gave broadcasters a chance to be a part of the new back-to-back triple-header format.

CBS paid around $70 million for the rights to air its bonus NFL playoff game, while NBC, which will air its own additional Wild Card broadcast in the Sunday primetime slot, forked over a fee said to be closer to $75 million. (For its part, Disney pays $100 million for the Saturday afternoon Wild Card game that airs simultaneously on ESPN and ABC. That cooperative effort will get even more inclusive this year as Disney’s Freeform, the cable network targeting women 18-34, will be added to the “MegaCast” roster.)

To get a sense of how the Nickelodeon simulcast may play out in real time, Shawn Robbins, the coordinating producer CBS Sports’ NFL coverage, staged a rehearsal effort in Green Bay. Animators enhanced the Packers game with a kid-friendly blend of vivid on-screen graphics and filters that served as a virtual means of punctuating the in-game action with a series of colorful and kinetic visual overlay. In another synergistic wrinkle, specially-selected inserts made it seem as if SpongeBob and his aquatic pals were reacting to the game alongside the home audience.

The various cartoonish elements were added to the game footage by a team working in the production truck, which allowed for what amounted to a series of eye-catching instant replays. The process of animating the footage and then bumping it back into the broadcast feed was all but instantaneous, Robbins said, which means that even the most distractible kids won’t have to wait very long to take in the enhanced version of a given play.

Robbins said the in-house fraternizing would extend to the Nickelodeon pre-game show, during which the flesh-and-bone Jim Nantz and Tony Romo will make a cameo appearance from their booth. In other words, we’re all that much closer to seeing Romo try to explain the intricacies of the cover-6 to an excitable, trousers-wearing sponge.

If the Wild Card experiment allows CBS and Nickelodeon to collaborate on one of TV’s biggest stages, it also should help the NFL make some inroads with the hard-to-reach younger crowd. According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day data, viewers under 18 make up just 6% of the primetime NFL audience, and while advertisers don’t necessarily value these grammar-school denizens, you don’t have to be Whitney Houston to realize that the children are the future.

If the NFL is to retain its hegemony over the American media space, it has to make converts of a whole bunch of young people. And the best place to do that via linear TV is arguably Nickelodeon, which has been the leading light in kids’ entertainment for nearly all of its 41-year history. Even though the target audience is now far more likely to access the Nick content via their handheld screens, the network can still draw a crowd with a big event. In May, Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards averaged 2.4 million viewers in its opening weekend, half of whom watched the show in real time.

As one might expect, the advertisers who buy time in Nickelodeon’s interpretation of the NFL Wild Card game for the most part won’t be the same brands supporting the flagship broadcast on CBS. (McManus allowed that there “may be some duplication” in the two commercial loads, as some advertisers will look to take advantage of the adult co-viewing that is likely to take place on the kids’ channel.) And while the CBS Sports boss added that the same team would sell both feeds, he did not expand on how the simulcast would be sold or what sort of ratings guarantees would be offered to Nickelodeon ad buyers.

According to Standard Media Index data, CBS in 2020 generated $41 million in ad sales revenue on the back of its Saturday primetime Wild Card broadcast. In upsetting the New England Patriots, Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans helped CBS deliver an average audience of 31.4 million viewers and a 17.1 household rating, making it the weekend’s second-biggest NFL game behind only the aforementioned Seahawks-Eagles battle on NBC. Based on pricing estimates and the volume of ads sold in the Kids’ Choice Awards, the Nickelodeon Wild Card simulcast could add another $6 million to $7.5 million to the kitty.

When asked if a successful crossover might serve as a precursor for future CBS-Nickelodeon NFL collaborations, McManus said he’d just as soon “wait and see how this works out” before committing to another kid-targeted telecast. Circling back to the question, McManus later said similar brand mash-ups would “probably be fairly few and far between.”

While there’s no telling which teams will appear in the bonus Wild Card game, Brian Robbins, President of ViacomCBS Kids & Family Entertainment, said he’d be particularly chuffed if the Kansas City Chiefs were part of the mix on Jan. 10. “Patrick Mahomes would be perfect for this,” Robbins said, citing the Super Bowl LIV MVP’s outsized standing among younger viewers. A dynamic quarterback who almost singlehandedly has injected “Fun” into the No Fun League, Mahomes also sports a haircut that wouldn’t look out of place at the Krusty Krab.


NFL to air kid-friendly playoff game on Nickelodeon

Differing from their normal telecasts on CBS and FOX, the National Football League will air a “kid-friendly” broadcast of their 4:30 p.m. ET Wild Card Game on January 10 on Nickelodeon.

“This is going to look different than a normal CBS broadcast, and I think the NFL understands that,” CBS Sports Chair Sean McManus said, via the Sports Business Journal.

“They really see the value. They are intent on reaching a younger audience. They think that’s where the fans of the future are. They think this is a really cool idea.”

Some of the distinguishing features will include superimposed slime in the end zones and adding Snapchat-style filters, such as googly eyes, to players during replays.

When a touchdown is scored, the network plans to cut to an animated scene of SpongeBob SqaurePants and Patrick Star yelling, “Touchdown!”

The NFL previously tested this type of broadcast during the December 6 game between the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles at Lambeau Field.

Noah Eagle will call the Wild Card Game, with CBS’ Nate Burleson and Nickelodeon’s Gabrielle Nevaeh providing color commentary. Lex Lumpkin, who also works for Nickelodeon, will be the sideline reporter.

Many of the advertisements will be the same as the CBS broadcast, but McManus said there will be some different commercials for their younger audience.


From TheWrap:

Here’s a Sneak Peek at What Nickelodeon’s NFL Playoff Broadcast Will Look Like, Green Slime and All (Video)

Animators will be busy in January

If you’re excited about the upcoming “Space Jam” sequel, you won’t have to wait until next summer to get your fill of live-action sports melding with cartoons. CBS Sports put out a sizzle reel showing what to expect when Nickelodeon airs its own broadcast of an NFL playoff game next month.

Get ready to see players with googly cartoon eyes and the football leaving a green slime trail. Don’t believe us? Check out the video [above].

CBS Sports’ coordinating producer Shawn Robbins told TheWrap that during the game, Nickelodeon will have an animation team back in New York ready to, as Robbins puts it, “‘Nick-ify’ the footage.” As you can see above, it will look very different than your average NFL broadcast.

“It’s happening in real-time,” Robbins explained, likening the process to how the CBS broadcast will get video replays on the air so quickly. “That [process] takes seconds. This is a little more of a process.”

As part of the NFL’s expanded playoffs this season, the opening weekend of the postseason will feature two extra games, with NBC and CBS broadcasting one apiece (giving each network two each during that weekend). Nickelodeon’s game will be an AFC matchup on Sunday, Jan. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET; CBS will air a traditional broadcast of that game as well.

For the Nickelodeon game, Noah Eagle will serve as the play-by-play announcer with former NFL player and CBS sports analyst Nate Burleson and “All That” castmember Gabrielle Nevaeh Green as the two booth analysts. Green’s fellow “All That” castmember Lex Lumpkin will be the sideline reporter. Denver Broncos star Von Miller will host the “Spongebob SportsPants Countdown Special” at 4 p.m.

During halftime of the game, Nickelodeon will air a sneak peek of the upcoming “Spongebob” spinoff, “Kamp Koral,” that will air on Paramount+ next summer.


From AP News:

SpongeBob, slime, football: Nickelodeon ready for NFL game

Get ready for SpongeBob SquarePants running out of the tunnel, players being covered with digital slime after touchdowns and commentary from the cast of “All That” when Nickelodeon airs an NFL playoff game.

CBS Sports and Nickelodeon revealed their plans on Tuesday for the kid-focused channel’s broadcast of a wild-card game on Sunday, Jan. 10. The Nickelodeon feed will be tailored for younger audiences with the usual broadcast airing on CBS and online at CBS All Access.

CBS and NBC got the rights to the two new wild-card games after owners voted earlier this year to expand the field from six to seven teams in each conference. There will be six games on wild-card weekend. The Jan. 9 and 10 games are scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m., 4:40 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. EST, and the middle Sunday game will get the Nickelodeon simulcast.

CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said adding a broadcast for families with young children was part of the discussions with the NFL when negotiations began on which networks would receive the additional games.

“The minute we brought it up to the NFL, they thought it was really a good idea because they are trying to reach a younger and more diverse demographic,” McManus said. “This was a great way of adding to the presentation without in any way shape or form harming the CBS broadcast.”

A trial run took place during the Dec. 6 Philadelphia Eagles-Green Bay Packers game to test graphics, animation and filters. Shawn Robbins, who will be the game’s coordinating producer, said Nickelodeon animators were able add their touches to certain plays and get them ready to go in less than 5 minutes.

“We had a live feed coming out of the Green Bay rehearsal and I was really blown away. It was so entertaining, fun and innovative,” McManus said. “We’re going to be able to respect the integrity of the game, but all the animations and the fun stuff is really going to make it look and feel very, very different than a CBS broadcast, which it should. I think it’s really going to be fun.”

Noah Eagle, the radio voice of the Los Angeles Clippers and son of longtime CBS play-by-play announcer Ian Eagle, will call the game along with “NFL Today” analyst Nate Burleson and Nickelodeon’s Gabrielle Nevaeh Green. Lex Lumpkin, who stars with Green on “All That,” will be a field reporter.

Nickelodeon will air “The SpongeBob SportsPants Countdown Special” before the game. The 30-minute show will be hosted by Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller and features SpongeBob’s best sports moments.

“When Sean told us that this is really going to happen, we were thrilled and excited. But the next day after that was, well, how do we make this different? So we really put our creative teams together,” said Brian Robbins, the president of ViacomCBS Kids & Family Entertainment. “I think we’ve come up with a really fun and differentiated broadcast, that we know that our kids, you know, the Nickelodeon audience should really enjoy along with their parents.”

CBS, which will broadcast this season’s Super Bowl, and Nickelodeon are under the same umbrella after last year’s ViacomCBS merger.

CBS isn’t the only network doing something extra on wild-card weekend. NBC’s prime-time broadcast on Jan. 10 will air on Telemundo and stream on Peacock. ESPN’s broadcast will also air on ABC.


From Variety:

ViacomCBS Taps SpongeBob SquarePants to Get Kids to Watch NFL

You won’t believe who’s taking the field in a bid to help CBS impress the National Football League.

SpongeBob SquarePants and green slime will be among the elements featured in a broadcast of a January 10th NFL Wild Card game that will appear on Nickelodeon while a traditional presentation runs on CBS. While gridiron aficionados take in the regular sports show, Nickelodeon will put on a game that parents and kids can watch together.  The kid-focused event will feature play-by-play commentary and reporting from two members of the network’s popular “All That” sketch-comedy series, animated graphics and intriguing visuals.

“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,” says Brian Robbins, president of kids and family entertainment for ViacomCBS, the networks’ parent company, in an interview.

Nickelodeon is best known as the home of series like “Henry Danger” and “Rugrats,” but it is taking a seat at the adult table by assisting in one of the top business initiatives of its corporate parent. Every big media company that shows NFL games is in the midst of trying to secure a new rights package, with many of the current contracts set to lapse by the end of 2022. One way to dazzle the football league is to fulfill one of its big requests: bring new audiences to the sport.

Many of ViacomCBS’ rivals are trying to do exactly that. NBC Sports recently added NBC News politics guru Steve Kornacki to “Football Night in America” and the “Sunday Night Football” halftime show, a way to woo fans of his data-driven reportage. At MSNBC, Kornacki examines a candidate’s path to victory in a presidential race. In football segments, he analyzes the probability any team has tomove forward in the weeks before the playoffs. Meanwhile, Walt Disney has this season tested several “mega-casts” that put different versions of a single football game on its various cable networks and ABC. A coming Wild Card broadcast will be tailored for the young, female viewers of the cable network Freeform.

CBS and NBC won rights to show new Wild Card games the NFL added for this season. “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,” says Sean McManus, chairman of CBS Sports, in an interview. “Any negotiation we are doing in the future, I think, will have a ViacomCBS element to it, whether it’s through programming or being able to reach a vastly different audience than we could have in the past before the merger.” The former Viacom and CBS merged anew at the end of 2019 in a pact valued at $11.8 billion.

Nickelodeon will rely on Noah Eagle, the 23-year-old son of CBS Sports regular Ian Eagle and the new play by play voice for Los Angeles Clippers games, and CBS Sports analyst Nate Burelson, to give viewers color commentary and play by play. They will be paired with “All That” cast member Gabrielle Nevaeh Green. “We are not asking her to be anything other than Gabby in the booth,” says Shawn Robbins, the coordinating producer of the Nickelodeon broadcast. Meanwhile, Green’s “All That” colleague, Lex Lumpkin, will report from the sidelines.

Producers expect the experience to create heartwarming family moments, says Robbins, the Nickelodeon chief, with some parents and children taking in their first sporting event together.

At the same time, executives understand the show must appeal to a generation that watches video in decidedly different fashion than its parents. “I would think it would be a good bet that there will be at least one device in a child’s hand at the same time they are watching the game — if not one, maybe two,” says Robbins. “We all know how our audience consumes content. They are watching the show and talking to their friends about it at the same time, and that’s OK.”

With that in mind, the game will come with digital components. A site,, will educate younger fans on football basics and provide NFL-themed content in the days before the game, as well as during it. Viewers in the three days before the event can use QR codes that will surface on the kids cable outlet to unlock collectibles related to SpongeBob and the Nick series “The Loud House.”

SpongeBob will help frame the Wild Card broadcast with a pre-show and a halftime sneak peek. “The SpongeBob SportsPants Countdown Special” will be hosted by Von Miller from the Denver Broncos and will offer highlights of the title character’s best sports moments. Jim Nantz and Tony Romo from CBS Sports will make live pre-kickoff appearances along with Eagle, Burelson and Green. At halftime, Nickelodeon will preview the SpongeBob spinoff “Kamp Koral,” which centers on SpongeBob’s camp memories. The show will debut on the new ViacomCBS streaming outlet Paramount Plus.

The kids’ outlet isn’t the first to experiment with creating professional sports broadcasts for the younger set. ESPN in 2019 tested a “kidscast” during its annual coverage of the Little League World Series. A game simulcast on ESPN2 featured two 16-year-olds  in the broadcast booth and two 15-year-old sideline reporters, who were assigned to report on the refreshments as well as any dugout action. Earlier in that year, the Walt Disney sports giant  tried streaming a version of Game 2 of the NBA Finals tailored for young men that had Katie Nolan and guests chatting on screen all while the game proceeded, with some of the action punctuated by emojis and stat-laden graphics.

While most football games often carry ads for beer, shaving gear and cars, the Nickelodeon broadcast is likely to feature commercials from a different set of sponsors, says McManus, who want to reach younger consumers and their families. Some advertisers, he adds, may choose to buy spots in both games.

How will Nickelodeon’s signature green goo be utilized throughout the game? Producers won’t give specifics. But viewers should count on seeing it. “There will be a lot of slime,” vows Robbins, the producer.


From Fatherly:

5 Very Good Reasons to Watch Football With Your Kids

If you aren't spending NFL Sundays with your family, you're missing out. Here's why.

This story was produced in partnership with Nickelodeon.

For the 224 NFL players whose fathers also played the game professionally, learning to play (and love) football was likely akin to learning to play (and love) a family business. Unfortunately, watching the game isn’t as cool as playing, and non-NFL dads can face an uphill journey in getting their kids ready for some football.

But just because your kid might not be naturally inclined to learn the intricacies of the Tampa 2 defensive scheme doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to teach them. Here are five reasons sharing your love of football with your kids is a great idea.

1. You Get More Time With Your Kids
The more time you spend with your kids, the better they do in life. This well-evidenced fact means that the more you can bring the kid into your interests, the better. If you’d call an NFL game an interest (we’re guessing you do), think of bringing your kid into the game as good parenting. Whether you’re analyzing the action, bemoaning your head coach’s decision-making, or just laughing at the commercials, there’s no wrong way to watch football as a family.

2. You Might Get Them to Play By the Rules
Football is a game of rules, and seeing their heroes pull off amazing feats while playing within the rules — and their team suffer the consequences of committing penalties — is a good lesson for kids. If Stefon Diggs can make an absolutely insane catch without committing offensive pass interference, your kids can clean their room without just shoving their dirty laundry under the bed.

3. Your Game Day Foods Will Only Improve
Football snacks are the best snacks, and watching the game as a family makes it easier to celebrate with pizza, burgers, wings, or whatever your kids like. We’re not exactly sure why these kid-friendly foods have become the unofficial Sunday menu for football fans everywhere, but we’re not complaining. With your kid in the room? Hey, we’ll have what he’s having.

4. You Will Want to Get Outside More
Kids love to imitate their heroes, so watching Patrick Mahomes evade rushers and pull off a no-look pass down the field is a great way to make them want to hit the gridiron themselves. A family game of two-hand touch at halftime is a good way for parents and kids to burn off some calories, and it can help kids discover the joy of leading an active life like their football heroes do.

5. You Just Started Up a New Family Tradition
Watching the NFL is an activity that lends itself to tradition. Football season is the same time every year, and the games air at the same time every week. That makes it easy to make football a weekly and yearly tradition, and the more family traditions you have the stronger your family unit is.

To help your kids get hyped for football, check out It has plenty of games and information designed to help kids learn the game. And don’t forget to tune into Nickelodeon the weekend of January 9 for the AFC Wild Card game, complete with Nick visuals that will help you gain you a football buddy for life.


Nickelodeon NFL playoff broadcast: What to expect for the unique slime and cartoon-filled Wild Card game

The broadcast will be a fun, light-hearted approach with surprises at every corner

CBS Sports spoke to Noah Eagle and Green about what viewers can expect from this unique kid-geared broadcast and how they have prepared for opportunity.

The National Football League will be brought into people's homes this weekend in a way that has not been done before: With the use of cartoons and slime, of course. Nickelodeon and CBS are partnering for a Wild Card weekend broadcast between the NFC's No. 7 seed Chicago Bears and No. 2 seed New Orleans Saints on January 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Noah Eagle -- son of CBS Sports NFL play-by-play broadcaster Ian Eagle -- will be on the call and he will be joined by analyst Nate Burleson and Nick stars Gabrielle Nevaeh Green and Lex Lumpkin during the game.

Eagle summed up the appeal of the broadcast, saying:

"This is a perfect opportunity to captivate a new audience of sports fans and football fans, while being a family friendly broadcast, so that the family can watch it all as a single unit, and have fun. It's going to be a blend of sports, entertainment, laughs, joy, all of the above, and we're expecting a good game as well, which doesn't hurt."

He added that they plan to focus less on facts like transactions or where players were drafted, and more fun facts like players' favorite Nick characters or ice cream flavors. Eagle said they hope to engage younger viewers by humanizing players and making them relatable to the next generation of sports fans.

When it comes down to it though, they're still calling an NFL game.

"If a big play happens, we're going to call the big play. But we're gonna have fun in all those times in between," Eagle said.

Green and Eagle focused on the "fun," "light," and unexpected elements of the broadcast, but say it's not just for younger viewers. 

"We're breaking it down in a way that everyone can understand whether you're nine, or whether you're 32, you can still have fun watching this broadcast," Green said.

She continued, adding that it could be something older fans watch to connect with younger members of their family.

"I feel like adults are really going to enjoy this as well because we are still giving that information that you do need during the game. But we're also putting it in a really interesting and really unique way," she said.

They both have a love and appreciation for pop culture and mixing it with sports, so they were thrilled for an opportunity to mix the two in such an obvious way.

As for that slime part mentioned before? Eagle is expecting it and ready to embrace it, but with a few parameters. "I fully expect to get slimed in a sense that I'm going to be like a coach where you just don't see it coming ... But I've told some other people that I may need to bring a shower cap, because I take my hair very seriously."

They think the approach will show that you can be successful with an NFL broadcast while having cartoon characters popping up, broadcasters being slimed and giving information that is not typically heard during a game.

Green is not just part of an experience never seen before on an NFL stage, she is also inspiring other girls and women.

When asked what it means to show others like her that they belong in any space they want to be in, she said, "That's the most important thing to me ... it's been extremely important to me to continue to inspire girls who look like me, and let them know that, hey, you can do anything that you put your mind to."

"It's an incredible honor to be up in the booth continue to inspire girls who maybe want to do the same thing one day," she said.

Green and Eagle are hoping this is a format that is replicated in the future and say based on what they've seen so far, it will be a success.


NFL Playoffs 2021: Wild Card Game To Get ‘Nick-ified’ on Sunday When CBS Sports, Nickelodeon Combine Production Efforts

Virtual slime, ‘Blockies’ characters will help make the simulcast attractive to kids

For CBS Sports, the 2020 NFL season will conclude with Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL, and a playoff stretch that will feature field-level camera angles never seen before and new shooting styles and methodologies. And Sunday’s Nickelodeon simulcast of the game between the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears will give the playoffs a fun start, with a production taking advantage of AR technology and more to allow kids to see a broadcast geared to them.

Virtual slime cannons will bring Nickelodeon’s most iconic element to NFL touchdowns on Sunday.

“It will be all things kids, but adults will get a good game, too,” says Shawn Robbins, coordinating producer, CBS Sports. “We have an experienced production team that knows the game of football first and foremost. It’s in our blood, so we won’t miss snaps or have jokes over the play. It will be a lot of fun, but the fun will be around what is most important, which is the game.”

Robbins became involved with the project in August when Rob Bagshaw, EVP, unscripted content, Nickelodeon, and the Nickelodeon production team laid out a vision for the game.

“They reimagined an NFL broadcast in the Nick style, with slime cannons and all of the characters you would envision,” Robbins says. “The CBS and Nickelodeon teams, especially graphics, have been working hand-in-hand on this project.”

CBS Sports producer Ken Mack and director Suzanne Smith will call Game Creek Columbia and NEP Chromium home for the show; the main CBS production team will work out of NEP Supershooter CBS and Game Creek Video Edit 2.

“It has been one of the most fun projects I’ve worked on at CBS,” says Jason Cohen, VP, remote technical operations, CBS Sports, “because it’s so unique, so creative, and the sky is the limit [on] the elements.”

Cohen and the production team worked to ensure that all the technical components are in place to properly incorporate Nickelodeon-specific AR elements and a 1st & Ten line Nick-ified by SMT.

SpongeBob SquarePants will play a big role in Nickelodeon’s NFL coverage this weekend

“There are hard and field-level cameras that will frame shots in certain ways,” he explains, “and then the Nickelodeon editors can take that footage and repurpose it with unique flair.”

For example, when a touchdown is scored, the Nickelodeon broadcast will feature AR slime cannons shooting out of the real-world pylons.

“After a touchdown in a regular show, Cameras 1 and 3 push in,” says Robbins. “But, on the Nickelodeon show, we lose the effect if the shot isn’t wide. Suzanne Smith came up with the idea of allotting cameras at the one and three positions just for the Nickelodeon show so the graphics can be seen the way the production team intended.”

The Nickelodeon show will have eight of its own cameras and five EVS replay servers as well as access to the 18 camera signals for the CBS show.

Expect plenty of kid-friendly AR elements in Nickelodeon’s NFL broadcast this weekend.

“We will also have three replay editors working remotely using Hawkeye,” says Cohen, “two working on the CBS show and the third on the Nickelodeon show.”

A Green Bay game on Dec. 6 served as a rehearsal, and Robbins says the functionality and workflows required between the trucks and the Nickelodeon graphics and editing teams were ironed out there.

During the process of coming up with elements, Robbins’s own kids, ages 12, 9, and 7, have been a test audience of sorts for various ideas. “They don’t know it,” he says, “but they have been a huge part of this process.”

The goal will be to not only entertain but also inform, and Robbins says play-by-play announcer Noah Eagle, analyst Nate Burleson, and Nick star Gabrielle Nevaeh Green, will have a unique chance to also educate.

“Nate is so excited to teach the game,” says Robbins. “He has three kids of his own and is also a high school football coach.”

Halftime replays will have a truly unique look during Nickelodeon’s NFL playoff game on Sunday.

Halftime highlights also will have a unique look. NFL Next Gen Stats will allow animated “Blockie” characters (similar in look to Minecraft characters) to mimic the exact formations and routes run by the players in the real highlights.

As for the lasting impact of the broadcast, the production will exemplify a new way of working. For instance, clips will be moved to New York, where Nick editors will finish them and return them for use as bumpers, highlights, and more.

“We’ll see ways to implement that on a lot of broadcasts going forward,” Robbins points out. “Maybe not in a slime way but in a lot of ways. This whole production relies on technology, and it’s just another way to bring coolness to the game.”

The Sunday game will be the second NFL playoff game of the weekend for CBS. Saturday’s game between the Buffalo Bills and Indianapolis Colts will be produced out of NEP Supershooter 4, which will make its NFL playoff debut.

“We’ve upgraded coverage with additional cameras around the stadium, Skycam, pylon cameras, aerials, and added super-slo-mo coverage and replay capabilities,” says Cohen. “The A game on Sunday increases to nine super-slo-mos plus a 4K zoom using the Sony 4800, Skycam, pylon cams, line-to-gain cameras, and aerials.”


New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton would love to be slimed after NFL playoff game on Nickelodeon

If New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton arrives at his postgame press conference Sunday oozing green, let it be known: He asked for this.

“I will officially volunteer to be Slimed if we win,” Payton said Friday over Zoom. “I would be willing to be Slimed if we won, whatever that means.”

Welcome to the NFL-Nickelodeon wild-card partnership.

The Bears-Saints wild-card playoff game will still air on CBS via NFL color analyst Tony Romo and play-by-play man Jim Nantz. But in an effort to engage younger fans and families, CBS Sports has partnered with Nickelodeon — also owned by CBS parent company ViacomCBS — to simulcast the game in a kid-centric, Nickelodeon-style way Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Think: graphics featuring googly eyes, Sponge Bob and Nickelodeon character Lincoln Loud; a pregame “SpongeBob SportsPants Countdown Special” and halftime advance screening of “Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years.” Gabrielle Nevaeh Green, who stars on Nick’s “All That” and “Unfiltered” will join the Superdome broadcast booth alongside NFL Network’s Nate Burleson and Clippers play-by-play announcer Noah Eagle, while Nick’s Lex Lumpkin reports from the sideline.

Green credits Burleson and Eagle with working the last few weeks to “coach and mold me into a football encyclopedia.” The 15-year-old didn’t begin following football until she was “around 13-14,” she says. But she’s learned quickly that quarterbacks are often the star of the show, New Orleans’ Drew Brees is a legendary one and Bears passer Mitchell Trubisky is “fairly new and trying to prove” himself.

And she doesn’t gauge her success on how deeply she explains football scheme or personnel. Burleson and Eagle will bring the professional lens, Green says. She’ll bring a “bunch of crazy energy,” questions that fans new to the game might want answered and a knack for personalizing the players.

“Football can be kind of confusing,” Green told USA TODAY Sports by phone. “It’s kind of hard to remember all those terms but if we can say, ‘Hey that’s the guy who loves chocolate ice cream and he just ran all the way down the field,’ that’s a win for us to get new football fans engaged.”

That new engagement was the goal when CBS Sports and Nickelodeon executives conceived the idea. Football games already are full of graphics, so why not enlist the SpongeBob animators? Broadcasts typically introduce players to fans, so why not introduce them by favorite food and hobbies instead of college and season statistics? More than 15 players per team filled out questionnaires to ensure that was possible, CBS Sports coordinating producer Shawn Robbins told USA TODAY Sports. Robbins said the same technology that typically displays down-and-distance in game broadcasts will seamlessly project Slime cannons Sunday afternoon.

“You get to teach the game in a way you wouldn’t normally talk about football,” Robbins said. “But a mom and dad coming into the Nick game are going to get a good football game out of us. We’re going to keep the integrity for sure. It’s just going to be delivered in a different way.”

Green, for her part, has marveled at the legwork NFL broadcasts require. She says the football broadcasting manual CBS sent her was nearly 800 pages long (Robbins laughed, explaining she was not expected to memorize them all) but the players’ questionnaire responses perhaps excite her most.

“I was reading the information and was like, ‘Wow, that dude like Hot Cheetos? I like Hot Cheetos too!’ It’ll be fun for fans.”

Green also hopes she’ll inspire other young women who will have the rare chance to see someone like them in a CBS Sports broadcast booth and see her embracing what she hopes will be an energy-packed, joke-filled, “loosey-goosey” role.

“It’s an incredible honor, especially that I’m the first female to be up in the booth for a CBS broadcast. I don’t take that lightly at all,” Green said. “I’m hoping to inspire young girls that, hey: You can do anything you aspire to do.’”


From hnhh:

NFL To Air "Experimental" Playoff Broadcast On Freeform With DJ Khalid Performing

The NFL is airing several playoff games on unusual TV networks, this weekend.

The Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans playoff matchup scheduled for Sunday at 1:05 PM, will air, not only on ESPN and ABC, but also on Freeform, a network primarily known for showing movies on weekends.

The experimental move is being done by the NFL in an attempt to attract a younger audience and the broadcast will feature a number of unique guests, including DJ Khalid.

“It’s an experiment. We’ve never done it before,” says Sarah Lindman, senior vice president of content planning and strategy at Freeform. “Our expectation is that we will be able to deliver additional audience to a traditional football broadcast — a new audience.”

“DJ Khaled, who hinted in a tweet that he has 'surprises' in-store, will perform at halftime during the Freeform broadcast,” a FOS newsletter states. 

Continuing the goal of reaching a younger viewer base, the NFL will be working with Nickelodeon to show a Wild Card game, Sunday, between the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints. 

“I think as we look forward, you will see us do more and more of this,” says Hans Schroeder, executive vice president and chief operating officer of NFL Media, according to Variety. “The main broadcast will always be an important part, but we think there are ways to add to it."



Slime-filled NFL playoff game on Nickelodeon is a hit

The NFL’s foray onto Nickelodeon appears to be a hit — even if may be more popular for the nostalgic audience instead of the young audience.

The main broadcast of Sunday’s Saints-Bears playoff game was on CBS, but it was also simulcast on Nickelodeon with all the special effects of a kids’ show, including a heavy dose of slime on plenty of regular graphics.

When Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas scored the first touchdown of the game in the first quarter, a graphic showed cannons spraying slime — a Nickelodeon staple — into the end zone. The yellow first-down markers displayed on the screen were also covered in slime.

For those not listening in to Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, the Nickelodeon broadcast had Noah Eagle (son of the sports announcer Ian), former NFL receiver Nate Burleson and teenaged Nickelodeon stars Gabrielle Nevaeh Green and Lex Lumpkin on the educational call.

“I am so excited to be able to share the game through my eyes with you guys,” Green tweeted during the game. “As a neophyte to the game I hope I can help all kids out there enjoy and learn a little about football.”

The broadcast invoked Nickelodeon shows — with one graphic comparing Saints quarterbacks Drew Brees and Taysom Hill to SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick, with another lead-in video calling the show, “SpongeBob SportsPants.”

Early returns of the Nickelodeon broadcast had social media enjoying the kid-friendly twist.

But it wasn’t just for kids.


Originally published: Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 20:41 GMT.

H/T: Nickandmore!, Anime Superhero Forum /@kanc; Additional sources: Awful Announcing, FTW, The Bleacher Report, NBC Sports, ComicBook.

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