The NFL's Experiment On Nickelodeon

The NFL's playoff broadcast on Nickelodeon appeared to be successful, but what do the numbers say?

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Spoiler Alert: Football doesn’t always have to be super-serious.

This is exactly what the NFL proved this past weekend with Nickelodeon’s broadcast of Sunday’s NFL Wild Card Playoff game between the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints.

Here’s a breakdown of viewership numbers:

  • Total Viewers: 30.6 million

  • CBS Viewers: 28.5 million

  • Nickelodeon Viewers: 2.06 million

The interesting part?

While the 2M+ viewers that watched on Nickelodeon represented less than 10% of the total viewership number, it was the most-watched program on Nickelodeon in nearly four years.

That’s incredible.

Furthermore, here’s what Suzanne Smith—Sports Director at CBS—had to say:

“I’d love to see it done again for the championship game.” 

“Of course, the ultimate would be to do it for the Super Bowl. But it took a tremendous amount of work to get to this point. We worked on it for months and months. The way the technology works, I don’t think it’s something that you could do every week. But from all accounts, it was an enormous success. Everybody was happy about it.”

Even more interesting?

That comment was made right after the game, but before viewership numbers were final — I imagine she is even happier now.

Today, rather than dig through historical viewership numbers and make uneven comparisons, I thought it would be fun to take a different approach.

Let’s take a look at the social component.

While it’s true that the social component is typically inferior to tangible viewership numbers in the mind of sports media executives, they definitely care about it more than they lead on.

How do I know?

Think about it this way…

According to a recent study by Morning Consult, almost 50% of Gen Z respondents (Ages 13-23) said they don’t even consider themselves sports fans.

Furthermore, research shows that if you don’t capture a fan’s attention by the time they are 10-12 years old, you’ve most likely lost them forever.

For professional sports leagues that depend on viewership to prop up their increasing multi-billion-dollar valuations, that’s obviously concerning.

The solution?

Social media, where the sports fans of tomorrow spend their time today.

Rather than speculate on the social value created by the NFL and Nickelodeon this weekend, because “everyone I saw online was posting about it,” I did what I always do — take a look at the data.

Special thanks to my friends at Zoomph, who run a super impressive social media analytics platform, for the help.

Here’s how “Nickelodeon” performed on Twitter this weekend:

  • Posts: 73,723

  • Impressions: 402 million

  • Engagements: 2.2 million

The craziest part?

It created almost $6 million in social value.

Again, that’s incredible.

With impressive viewership numbers and more social engagement than Nickelodeon has had in years, the result of Sunday’s NFL experience is obvious:

It was a win for all parties involved.

The NFL reached a younger demographic, Nickelodeon received increased exposure, and fans were provided with another unique viewership option.

Now, the question becomes — When do they do it again?

My guess?

Sooner rather than later.

Have a great day, and we’ll talk tomorrow.

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