The NFL’s broadcast on Nickelodeon was a success. Should the NHL try and follow suit, and why it would or wouldn’t work.
When we first heard that Nickelodeon was broadcasting an NFL playoff game, the internet was skeptical. Instead, everyone was pleasantly surprised by the kid’s network broadcast of the Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints wild-card matchup. There were touchdowns and slime, Spongebob, and non-kid friendly language.
Twitter started talking about what it would be like if other professional sports got the Nickelodeon broadcast treatment. You can already tell where this is going: what if Nickelodeon showed an NHL game? Is that even a good idea?
The thinking behind the Nickelodeon broadcast was that it would be a great tool to introduce and explain football to a young audience. Get the kids hooked, and then they’ll become football fans for life. Some of us grew up loving sports, but this of another generation turn their attention towards television and social media. Instead of having them come to football, they brought football to them.
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Great marketing ploy, so you would expect that a Nickelodeon broadcast of the NHL would teach and get more young children interested in hockey. The NHL has been trying for years through initiatives such as their diversity and inclusion programs to grow the game. A broadcast like this lasts weekends NFL game would introduce the game to a younger audience directly.
Now, if you live north of the border in Canada, you don’t need to be taught to love hockey. Meanwhile, in the United States, hockey still remains the fourth sport and is fighting for exposure. Any exposure to grow the game is better than nothing.
Here comes the difficult part, can Nickelodeon broadcast hockey? Nickelodeon’s parent company is Viacom, which also owns CBS. Sunday’s game was also broadcast in more traditional methods on CBS for a non-kid audience, although many tuned in anyway.
The NHL has its national broadcast rights for the United States held by NBC. Considering they are a rival company of Nickelodeon’s parent company, that might be unlikely. Some NHL broadcasts are carried by ESPN plus. ESPN’s parent company is, of course, The Walt Disney Company, which has a plethora of kids channels in their portfolio.
There are some rumors that NBC might not be the NHL’s American media partner for much longer. If ABC/ESPN and Disney end up getting the national broadcast rights, perhaps they would try a kid-centered. broadcast. If CBS does, they already have experience with a kid-centered sports broadcast.
It’s a great idea the NHL should try. Hockey traditionalists might not like it, but it’s in the name of growing the game. If you want kids playing this game, you have to find new ways to reach them.