There might be a kids-focused broadcast of the Super Bowl eventually. It just won’t be this year.
Nickelodeon will still have a noticeable presence during Sunday’s coverage on CBS. Following the success of Nick’s presentation of an NFL playoff contest last month, CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said there were some discussions about an encore for Sunday’s matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before deciding to keep everything on CBS.
“It’s the biggest night of television for CBS, obviously, and that really is our motivation. It is all about getting as many eyeballs as we can on the CBS television network.,” McManus said. “Nickelodeon will have a real presence at the Super Bowl in some really creative ways.”
Two months ago, no one would have thought of asking McManus about possibly doing a kids-focused broadcast for the biggest game of the year. But the Jan. 10 wild-card game between the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints on Nickelodeon was a huge success. The game, which was also on CBS, averaged 30.65 million viewers — including 2.06 million on Nickelodeon — and generated 2 billion impressions on social media.
McManus is still surprised over the reaction the broadcast received.
“It’s the gift that keeps on giving to be honest with you,” he said. “The reaction which you saw, was nuts. I mean, social media, legacy media, television, parents, kids, you know, the whole thing just blew up.”
CBS’ Nate Burleson, the analyst on the Nickelodeon game, said the broadcast was a success because it was able to “speak a different language while explaining the same type of football that we all love. It spoke to different generations, people who are all kids at heart.”
Nickelodeon will air its own pregame special throughout the weekend, featuring network stars Gabrielle Nevaeh Green and Lex Lumpkin, who were also part of the playoff broadcast.
During “The Super Bowl Today” pregame show on CBS on Sunday, Green and Lumpkin will be part of a segment based on Nickelodeon’s game show “Unfiltered.” They will try to guess the identity of one of the players who is disguised behind an animated filter and voice changer.
At halftime, Burleson will recap the first and second quarters with highlights presented with on-field graphics and filters first seen during the playoff game last month.
Besides halftime, there will be more “Nick-ified” highlights during the game on Nickelodeon, CBS and NFL social media accounts.
“Super Bowl Today” producer Drew Kaliski said Nickelodeon was in the pregame plans, but that more ideas came out of working with Green and Lumpkin during the playoff game.
“We were always talking SpongeBob or characters of shows on Nickelodeon that we could involve, but it just kind of hit us right in the face off the success of that game,” Kaliski said. “It was just like, OK, we have something but how do we take it to the next level, or kind of work with that element in our pregame show?”
CBS and Nickelodeon continue to explore when to do another NFL or sports telecast. Hall of Fame coach and CBS analyst Bill Cowher said the best time to do it would be the opening week of the season as a way to help old and new fans. Imagine not knowing the game and having someone trying to explain why if you only go 9 yards after three downs you punt the ball, but somebody else gets four downs, Cowher said.
He also brought up the differences in why the play clock is 25 seconds sometimes compared to 40 seconds.
“Think about the element of what you’re trying to teach our young people,” he said. “We also have everybody coming across to our country, they see we really love and have this energy, but what’s this game of football? I would say, `Go to a Nickelodeon telecast, they speak to you in terms where you might get a chance to understand it, then you can start to watch our show.’”
Follow Joe Reedy at https://twitter.com/joereedy