The NFC Wild Card game was broadcast on Nickelodeon today. Wow. I never thought I’d type a sentence like that, but here I am. Nice. While this idea sounds strange at first, the experiment seems to have worked. The game featured plenty of kid-friendly content that presented the sport in a whole new way. Football is incredibly difficult to understand completely, but Nickelodeon did a fine job simplifying things for the younger audience with their commentary and graphics.
I expect to see more Nickelodeon football games in the future, for this is how the NFL solidifies its own.
The average age of an NFL TV viewer is about 47 years old. Although football is far and away the most popular sport in the United States in terms of viewership and revenue, the sport has several qualities that aren’t typically appealing to children and teens.
The NFL can’t do much about a lot of these things. There are a ton of rules in football. You can barely see players’ faces. Strategies are complex. There is a lack of action between every play. This just isn’t that great for kids with short attention spans, but these facets of football aren’t going anywhere.
The NFL airing a game on Nickelodeon helps mitigate these ingrained flaws, however. The Saints-Bears broadcast explained some of the basic principles of football and brought the game to life in a unique way (slime in the end zone, Spongebob in the goal posts, etc.). Any child who knew little to nothing about football came away with a firmer grasp of the sport. Fact. That’s huge for developing the next generation of fans. The NFL needs to keep this up.
Other leagues should take notice as well.
Looking at you, Rob Manfred
MLB is even worse in terms of attracting a younger audience. The average age of an MLB TV viewer is 53, the oldest of the four major American sports. The sport of baseball also has characteristics that will never be sexy for children, but this is compounded by the fact that MLB has done such a poor job appealing to a younger demographic in creative ways.
Luckily, Commissioner Manfred doesn’t have to be creative anymore. Just copy the NFL. Simple as that. Partner with Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network or Disney or whatever kids channel you want. Just make sure you’re getting your game in front of young eyeballs, because waiting until they’re in their 50s is horrible for business. 2020 was a tumultuous season from a financial perspective; perhaps something like this could give you a nice little jolt.
Sports are meant for kids
Any sports fan thumbing his or her nose at professional sports being presented on Nickelodeon is being stupid and shortsighted. Sports are meant for kids, and kids are the future. There are also truckloads of money to be made from tapping into a child’s fanhood. You better believe Roger Goodell wants an NFL jersey to be on every Christmas wish list, and putting games on stations kids watch is a clever tactic to help make that happen.
The NFL is king in the United States. Stuff like this further secures the throne.