How the CFL could embrace the NFL’s Nickelodeon broadcast strategy

Screenshot courtesy: Nickelodeon

There is one recent event that has the sports world talking.

No, it’s not the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills finally winning a playoff game. It’s not Alabama winning their 600th NCAA national football championship, either.

Instead, it’s a blowout playoff game between the New Orleans Saints and Chicago Bears.

Why? For the first time ever, the NFL decided to take a risk and try something new with their broadcast. Along with the traditional telecast on CBS, the game was also seen on Nickelodeon in the United States.

Nickelodeon is, of course, a channel for children and the Nickelodeon broadcast reflected that. There were digital slime cannons in the end zones, Spongebob Squarepants was between the goals posts, and the commentary team was kid-friendly.

The NFL’s hope was that the game and its added features would help them reach a younger audience.

Only time will tell if it was truly successful or not, though it did garner a rating of over two million. It will probably require more than one game for it to have a lasting effect on the kids, but it was a solid start.

It was a fun experiment. I found a stream online and watched it for a little bit. It definitely wasn’t for the hardcore football fan, but it wasn’t meant to be. For what it was meant to accomplish, it was fun and totally hit the mark.

The broadcast also inspired this wonderful piece at Sports Illustrated about how the broadcast was a breath of fresh air. Sports should be fun, after all.

Let’s all take a deep breath and have some fun from time to time. Especially when so much in the world is definitely less than fun.

While there seems to be some chatter amongst CFL fans about the league doing some similar games, I don’t know if they can logistically pull it off unless Bell is willing to play nice with Corus (owners of YTV, Teletoon, and Cartoon Network), CBC or another producer of children’s programming.

With that in mind, here are some broadcasts Bell could pull off with networks under their umbrella.

The CFL on Discovery

Nerds unite! The science of football in real-time is here.

Even though Discovery has become more of a haven for reality TV these days, its roots are still in science. A broadcast geared toward the math and science of football could be pretty cool.

The CFL on Animal Planet

This one could potentially target kids. Ideally, it would be a game between the Lions and Ticats — lots of opportunities for fun graphics and animal inclusion.

The CFL on CTV Comedy Channel

Monday Night Football tried to have a comedian as a part of their broadcast crew with Dennis Miller many moons ago. The problem? He was teamed up with broadcasters and football people.

Just unleash a bunch of comedians on the game and let the good times roll.

The CFL on Much

Some different opportunities here. You could do it like a “pop-up video” game — if you remember that show that used to have factoids about music videos.

The game would naturally feature a number of musical performances.

You could also tie in a bunch of entertainment-type people and reality TV stars as well.

Games could even be re-broadcasted in South Park animation.

The CFL on Crave

The home of HBO/Showtime in Canada, the CFL could put some games on the premium channel/streaming service completely uncensored.

Let fans inside the game like never before. Live mics everywhere. No delays. Viewer discretion is advised.

Joel Gasson is a Regina-based sports writer, broadcaster and football fanatic. He is also a beer aficionado.