Nickelodeon will air NFL wild-card game in specially produced broadcast

Terez Paylor
Senior NFL writer

Get your SpongeBob SquarePants memes ready next January, because playoff football is coming to Nickelodeon.

NFL team owners voted to expand the playoff format from 12 to 14 teams on Tuesday. This will create two additional wild-card playoff games per year, which the team owners voted to broadcast on two of its regular broadcast partners, NBC and CBS.

Both games, however, also will be aired on different platforms. NBC will air its extra game — which will be broadcast at 8:15 p.m. ET on Jan. 10 — on Peacock, its new streaming service, and Spanish-language network Telemundo. CBS will show its game on Nickelodeon, the popular children’s cable station, via a separately produced telecast. 

The Nickelodeon game, which will be broadcast at 4:40 p.m. ET on Jan. 10, will be tailored for a younger audience.

Could Patrick and SpongeBob be part of a specially produced broadcast of an NFL playoff game for Nickelodeon? (Photo by Victor Chavez/Getty Images)

“The youth demographic is very important — there are plenty of young fans, and we want to continue to bring the game to the young fans,” NFL executive vice president Brian Rolapp told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. “This was an idea that CBS had in order to do that was to create a special production for them, but I think it’s very similar to NBC thinking, ‘How do we actually create a separate telecast to reach the Hispanic fan base?’ And that was on Telemundo.”

Rolapp said the NFL is always asking itself how to reach as many viewers as possible.

Nickelodeon has been a staple in American homes since 1977, and continues to resonate with multiple generations of Americans. 

Those hoping to hear that the network will find a way to weave its assortment of classic television shows — ranging from the aforementioned SpongeBob to “Double Dare” to “Legends of the Hidden Temple” — into the playoff broadcast will have to wait a little longer for details.

“What we expect it to be like, we’re not sure yet,” Rolapp said. “There’s a lot of planning and work that will go into that, and CBS Viacom will be hard at work at that.”

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