Nickelodeon’s NFL Game Broadcast Was the Network’s Most-Watched Program in 4 Years

Over the weekend, CBS Sports pulled a new trick and aired Sunday’s NFL wild-card game on Nickelodeon. But they didn’t leave it at that. The game had animations show up on the screen to make it more interesting for kids, including funny filters of hamburgers floating above players’ heads, clouds beneath their feet, and green slime cannons erupting in the touchdown zone. And of course, it wouldn’t be Nickelodeon without an appearance by some SpongeBob SquarePants characters.

While the concept seems a little gimmicky, it was actually a huge hit. CBS Sports said the Chicago Bears v. New Orleans Saints broadcast on Nickelodeon was the network’s most-watched program in almost four years with 2.06 million viewers tuning in. After nine months of carefully ironing out the details on how the broadcast would work, CBS Sports and Nickelodeon execs delivered a highly animated game that was entertaining for all ages.

“Over and over, we heard how enjoyable it was for parents to watch with their kids of all ages,” says CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus. “We had hoped that was going to happen, but in reality, it did.”

CBS/Viacom wasn’t the only network to showcase an NFL game through an unusual outlet Sunday. NBC aired its Wild Card game on Telemundo as well as its new streaming service Peacock, and Disney tested the waters with a different game on Freeform and ESPN Plus. With live sports taking a hit last year, it looks like the networks are diving into new, fresh ways to make sure this season pulls in all the viewers it can, including those from a younger demographic.

Being so well received, CBS might try pulling this kind of stunt again, but the decision is still up in the air.

“We haven’t made any decisions yet. We are still kind of analyzing it,” McManus said. “I think if we do it again, it would be on very select events, but we really haven’t made any decision about going forward.”