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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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‘Slime’ Super Bowl Begins Alternate Broadcast Wave for NFL’s Big Game

  • New set of NFL media rights deal carry broader provisions for networks
  • CBS Sports parent looks to expand audience for biggest event in U.S. television
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The slime is coming to the Super Bowl, in what is likely to be the start of a wave of alternate broadcasts for the biggest annual event in U.S. television.

On Tuesday, CBS Sports parent Paramount unveiled plans for a kids-themed broadcast of Super Bowl LVIII on Nickelodeon, building on three prior presentations of NFL games and a fourth scheduled for Christmas 2023.

The broadcasts — operating parallel to the main CBS Sports presentation and featuring the network’s well-known graphics and personalities — will be the first alternate Super Bowl broadcast, but surely not the last.

The league’s new set of media rights deals — completed in early 2021, worth about $110 billion overall, and going into full effect this year — contain provisions allowing networks to develop additional Super Bowl broadcasts. 

Those contract elements materially expand on existing efforts offering standard English- and Spanish-language game broadcasts — and will also allow Fox, Comcast, and Disney to similarly spread upcoming Super Bowls across more sister channels.

“We are encouraging all our broadcast partners to innovate around game presentation, [to] think of new, different, engaging ways to present the game,” Alex Riethmiller, NFL VP of communications, told Front Office Sports.

Nickelodeon’s prior NFL’s games have steadily dropped in average viewers:

  • January 2021 Wild Card game: 2.06 million
  • January 2022 Wild Card game: 1.33 million
  • December 2022 regular-season game: 906,000

But instead of fearing diminishing returns, Paramount looks to expand what is already American TV’s largest audience, with Super Bowl LVII in February bringing in 113 million viewers on Fox.

“In Year 1 of our new long-term deal with the NFL, we continue to maximize the potential of our expanded distribution rights and further unlock the value of the league,” said Bob Bakish, Paramount president and CEO.

One Super Bowl, Two Networks

Super Bowl I in 1967, prior to the AFL-NFL merger three years later, was shown on both CBS and NBC as a result of separate broadcast rights contracts each of those leagues held.

While also a multichannel airing, the situation for Super Bowl LVIII fundamentally differs as it involves sister networks working from a single rights contract.

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