The Nickelodeon NFL playoff broadcast was amazingly well-done and entertaining. It was pulled off to near perfection.
It is not, however, the future of broadcasting.
While alternative game presentation styles have been around for a while — and aren’t going anywhere and could expand — every broadcast is not going to feature networks’ versions of “slime cannons.” If they do, they won’t be as well-received as Bears-Saints on Nickelodeon.
Even for Super Bowl Sunday, CBS/Nickelodeon have no plans to add a version of the big game, a CBS spokeswoman told The Post. The logistics during the pandemic make it highly unlikely to happen.
Of course, the Nickelodeon broadcast will be built on in the future. It was too good not to be, but the reason it is so difficult to mimic is because it was as much the execution as the idea.
ESPN has already led the way on alternative broadcasts with its “MegaCast” approach to the college football championship. Turner has them, too.
Dating back to 2006, ESPN did what it called then a “Full Circle” offering, where it had three separate broadcasts for a North Carolina-Duke game that featured Tyler Hansbrough. During the Little League World Series in 2019, ESPN had kid broadcasters do some games. There have been others.
The success of these telecasts begins with the broadcasters. On Sunday, Nate Burleson started his 22 for 25, 300-yard day, saying he was born to call an NFL game on Nickelodeon. It showed.
A lifelong fan of the network with a young family now and a former football player, Burleson was on fire the same way Tony Romo shot out of the gate, predicting plays as an analyst four years ago.
Burleson had enjoyable analogy after analogy. He said that moving the ball down the field is like homework, while the red zone was the test. It was simple and creative at the same time.
Meanwhile on play-by-play, Noah Eagle was just as perfect a choice as Burleson. Eagle, 24, looks and sounds just like his father, Ian. Noah already is the radio voice of the Los Angeles Clippers, so he has the professional chops.
But this is not a broadcast that could be faked so there had to be authentic knowledge. Eagle’s youth and obvious affection for Nickelodeon combined with a level of professionalism that sounded as if it could be on CBS made for the ideal match.
The overall production was on point. The slime for the touchdown was very good. The elements were not overbearing. It doesn’t always work that way as a hot mic picked up swear, but the overall production was so good that became a minor point.
Earlier Sunday, ESPN did a “MegaCast” for its playoff game with mixed results. Disney’s Freeform featured Maria Taylor and Jesse Palmer. There was an array of guests and it felt like a hodgepodge, where you were in a no-viewer zone of wondering if you would enjoy it if you liked football or Freeform or what? The “Watch Party” lacked focus.
On the other hand, ESPN2’s “Film Room,” featuring the network’s Countdown Crew gave good insight with Keyshawn Johnson sticking out with quick opinions.
The common thread to Nickelodeon and the “Film Room” was they were natural. It is all about the execution. There will be more of these broadcasts, but if you don’t nail the people involve, like Nickelodeon and CBS did with Burleson and Eagle, then the slime cannons won’t go off because there won’t be many scores.