From SpongeBob to TikTok, leagues and broadcasters using many methods to attract and retain young fans

If you watch the Super Bowl for the commercials, you no longer have to wait until the big game to see what advertisers have in store for viewers. Big advertisers release their ads online early in the hope of capitalizing on buzz as the game approaches. The estimated going rate for a 30-second spot this year is $7 Million.


There were plenty of critics when CBS announced four years ago that it would produce a kids-centric broadcast of an NFL playoff game on Nickelodeon.

Now, if a league or network isn’t doing something to appeal to younger fans, they are behind the times.

Nickelodeon will air its fifth NFL game on Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs face the San Francisco 49ers for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. It will also mark the first alternate broadcast of a Super Bowl game.

For CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus, the progress from Nickelodeon’s first game during the playoffs in the 2020 season to now has surpassed even his wildest expectations.

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“I thought it would be kind of fun with the younger announcers and other hosts, but I never thought it was going to for three hours be this explosion of graphics and commentary and augmented reality. I really credit the folks at Nickelodeon with their technicians and graphic designers and all that and what they’ve done with our CBS sports brethren,” McManus said. “We’ve set a new standard every time. So many fathers and mothers have come up to me and said they’ve never watched a football game with their young son or daughter, but they love the Nickelodeon experience.”

The thought of SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star describing a Travis Kelce touchdown isn’t for everyone, but it does target an audience and demographic that is important to future success.

In an age where viewing is measured more by minutes than hours, and cord cutting shows no signs of slowing down, any increases that leagues and networks can get is huge.

“We know that those who you expose to the game are much more likely to become fans, but it’s also about how do we approach the availability of our games and how do we give different experiences? How do we tailor in an appropriate way but still deliver a high quality viewer experience that caters toward different parts of our fan base?” said NFL EVP of Media Distribution Hans Schroeder.

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