Why The NFL x Nickledon Collab Should Be Celebrated

The NFL and CBS Sports recently announced that they are using the Wild Card game on January 10 to get kids and families into the game. How? Through a kid-friendly broadcast on Nickelodeon. 

Yes, this one-on-a-kind broadcast will feature plenty of slime, kid-focused content and Nick-themed elements throughout, including a special halftime presentation, guest reporters, etc. 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.

While I’m sure this move is polarizing and sure to elicit some eye rolls, I absolutely love the idea. Here’s why I think this move is something to celebrate:

It’s focused on the next generation of fans. 

There has been conversation around a Gen Z problem in sport. This should raise some alarm and concern for anyone that works in sports. Losing an entire generation of fans poses a risk for our industry, and it’s time we get serious about the challenges. We can’t take for granted what it takes to captivate interest and cultivate fandom in this era of endless choices. 

There is one thing every team and league should be focused on: How do we cultivate the next generation of fans? This idea from the NFL and CBS focuses precisely that. It’s about bringing the game to a young, new audience in a way that that they can relate to. The reliability and accessibility are key. 

There is a really good chance that people that hate this idea are not the target audience. And, that’s a good thing. They can watch their standard broadcast on CBS while the next generation of fans learn about the game.

Big ideas breakthrough.

The only way to truly break through the clutter is to do something different. The best projects and ideas I’ve been part of are the ones that have made myself and others a little uncomfortable. Why? Because bland ideas don’t get noticed. It’s bold ideas that get seen. 

Any team or league looking to stand out about the noise will need to take some calculated risks. Today, you have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable and create an environment where people feel like they can test and try.

This Nickledon collaboration is unlike anything we’ve seen in sports before. And because it’s fresh, different and unexpected, it might just stand the chance of breaking through in a big way.

It gives a chance at growth.

It’s not too hard to understand what a team or league must do to cultivate and sustain their relationship with current and diehard fans. It’s much harder to find those ideas that truly transcend a team, league or sports and go beyond our bubble. 

For growth to happen, our industry cannot keep doing the same old thing. We have to think big and find partners that bridge gaps and connect with an audience we don’t already touch. The NFL partnering with Nickleldoen to broadcast a kid-friendly game is an excellent example of a strategic partnership focused on driving growth.

Growth does not happen by playing it safe. It does not happen by tapping into our existing audience. It does not happen by doing the same thing. Growth happens when we find those big ideas that make us all uncomfortable because it transcends our bubble. This idea does that and gives the NFL an opportunity for growth.

The NFL x CBS x Nickelodeon partnership is a great example of an idea focused on solving a key business goal. It’s smart, bold and maybe a little insane — but it’s looking to solve a challenge in an exciting way —and that’s why it should be celebrated. Only time will tell exactly how this concept pans out, but either way, we need more of this thinking in sports.

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