This past weekend, the National Football League televised a Wild Card matchup between the New Orleans Saints and the Chicago Bears on Nickelodeon. Yes, Nickelodeon. This broadcast partnership between the NFL and Nickelodeon sparked heavy criticism once the partnership was announced. But what was initially looked at as a joke, quickly flipped the narrative and is now being sought out as a trend “ahead of the curve” for the sports entertainment industry.
The Nickelodeon broadcast of the Wild Card game had fans, including kids, on the edge of their seats as action filled their television screens. Bringing a downpour of green slime and special effects to the game, Nickelodeon attracted the attention of young and new fans into the sport. The broadcast was filled with fun and energy, but most importantly it was different from the normal broadcasts. Increasing the entertainment value of sports is more than necessary during the times of low broadcast viewership. A study from the New York Times stated that the 2020 NBA Finals viewership was down 49%, the 2020 NFL regular season viewership was down 13%, and the Stanley Cup Finals viewership was down a massive 61%. These numbers are not random as it is the cold hard truth.
Specifically for Major League Baseball, the solution to the decrease in viewership is bright and clear: bring more entertainment to the game.
The reason behind the decrease in viewership is not because of the pace of play, or the unnecessary amount of mound visits; it’s because the sport lacks the entertainment factor. Baseball is slowly digressing and fading away as “America’s Pastime” right in front of our eyes. Televising the sport on a network such as Nickelodeon would be great for the sport, the players and most importantly, the fans. Attracting and connecting with the younger generation of viewers via Nickelodeon would provide an increase of marketability towards teams, players and the sport. Partnering with Nickelodeon would spark conversation and push younger fans into playing baseball all around the world. Bringing conversation around the game, at any level, is a necessity.
Expanding and getting “ahead of the curve” within sports entertainment is what baseball needs to do in order to revive the slowly-fading sport. Players all around the league including shortstops Fernando Tatis Jr., Fransisco Lindor, Javier Baez and outfielders Ronald Acuña Jr., Mookie Betts and Bryce Harper bring unique flavors to the game that need to be promoted towards the younger generation of fans. This is the solution baseball needs and craves. Major League Baseball needs to take the jump and do what’s right for the sport by following the NFL’s shrewd moves.
Photo: Orlando Ramirez / USA TODAY Sports