Wednesday, September 01, 2021

'NFL Wild Card Game on Nickelodeon' Broadcast to Return for 2021 Season

Nickelodeon is set to air a NFL wild-card playoff game for a second year, CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus told reporters Wednesday (Sept. 1)! The news follows Nickelodeon hosting a special slime-filled presentation of the National Football League’s Wild Card game between the New Orleans Saints and the Chicago Bears in January, which delivered the network its highest ratings in nearly four years.

On Jan. 10, more than two million viewers tuned into the first-ever broadcast of an NFL game on kids’ network Nickelodeon, with the network adding augmented reality (AR) graphics to the broadcast as well as color commentary from Noah Eagle, Nate Burleson and Nickelodeon star Gabrielle Neveah Green (That Girl Lay LayAll ThatNickelodeon’s Unfiltered). Nick star Lex Lumpkin (All ThatNickelodeon’s Unfiltered) ­­also served as a reporter during the game.

Nick’s simulcast, described as “a wacky, slime-filled simulcast”, aired live alongside CBS’ official presentation of the Wild Card playoff game between the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints.

Among the fun graphics that Nick and Elevation concocted were googly eyes bulging out of helmets, animated slime cannons going off in the endzones (redubbed "Slime Zones") whenever a team scored and Nick superstar SpongeBob SquarePants poking his head out between the goal posts.

During the game, fans voted Chicago Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky the first-ever “Nickelodeon Valuable Player” ("NVP") award.

“There has never been a live sports experience quite like this on television, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive from audiences of all ages,” said Kurt Hartman, Vice President (VP) of Animation and Motion Graphics for Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Nick@Nite, in a statement. “Not only was it Nick’s premiere splash into major sports, but also it marks the first time an NFL game was simulcasted on two completely different networks.”

Creative company Elevation worked closely with Nickelodeon to develop the branding for NFL on NickPlay, which aims to attract a younger generation to the NFL “in a fun and educational way”.

Elevation’s branding and design toolkit included a logo, type treatments, iconography, graphics, and an bright and kid-friendly — all unified to live across Nickelodeon’s digital, social, and broadcast channels.

“Bridging the gap between the NFL and Nickelodeon audiences, the visual language for this package emphasises the fun of the game while still maintaining the marquee feel of a big sporting event,” explains Elevation’s art director, Dianne Frisbee. “Striking that balance played into every creative choice and, of course, we ‘Nickified’ everything we possibly could, which meant lots of slime!”

Nick’s classic orange and slime-green colors served as the jumping-off point for the package, with Elevation adding bubbly iconography and football-themed visuals to the network’s catalog of iconic characters.

The “NFL on NickPlay” logo zeroes in on a slab serif font with thick, block-like letters, while game-inspired textures—turf, footballs and jerseys—ramped up the playfulness. Incorporating a mix of 2D and 3D animation in the package reinforced that balance.

“Nickelodeon and the NFL have tapped into something that just may come to redefine live sports on TV as we know it,” said Elevation Executive Producer Steph Carson, also in a statement. “We are thrilled with how it turned out and how they welcomed us as a true extension of their team.”

Besides the cross-promotion between Nick and CBS Sports, the partners also had fun dropping in some special guest stars, such as Young Sheldon (Iain Armitage) popping up to explain a rule here and there.

The branding and broadcast toolkit developed by Elevation was then handed over to Nick’s in-house creative team. Here, Elevation also provided animation tests defining the motion behaviour for the in-game graphics for the live broadcast and promo materials.

Once the creative assets were delivered, Nickelodeon focused on game-day logistics working closely with CBS Sports and SMT, which specializes in real-time and wireless data and display systems for major sporting events. This included developing a pipeline between Nickelodeon animators in New York City and the CBS Sports on-site media team in New Orleans to send and receive clips in real time and apply Nick-themed graphics that would air moments later. In total, 125 clips—amounting to 22 minutes of animation—were aired over the course of the game.

“We found a way to make the sport funny and irreverent, taking the business part out of the game for kids, but never losing sight that real football fans were also watching and enjoying,” said Giancarlo Barrera, Senior Art Director for Nickelodeon Brand Creative, also in a statement. “It was a completely new and incredibly ambitious approach to live television for everyone involved — creatively and technically — but we had an all-star team to put it all together in Elevation, Nickelodeon, CBS Sports, and SMT. We’re all excited to see what’s possible and what’s next.”

Originally published: September 01, 2021.

Original source: Sports Illustrated; Additional source: @ItsBreadTime.

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