The NFL’s Nickelodeon Broadcast Teaches Us An Important Lesson on Marketing

The NFL playoff game between the Bears and the Saints is being broadcast simultaneously on CBS and Nickelodeon.

Looking at the Twitter, folks are commenting about how trippy it is, or how the person that came up with the idea is like, “show me the money.”

The reality on this is that it is a win to proper marketing and the process of creating a strategy based on market orientation, research, segmenting, targeting, and positioning.

A few months back, I saw an article where NFL CMO, Tim Ellis, talked about the research the NFL had done on reaching younger fans. And, the starkest data point was how difficult it became for the NFL to win over a fan if they weren’t a fan by the time they were 18.

I can’t find the article, but the ability to recruit a fan after the age of 18 fell off dramatically.

Meaning that young viewers that weren’t already watching sports were a key target.

Along comes the announcement of a playoff game broadcast on Nickelodeon.

As much as any genius of creativity, this is an example of the genius of proper marketing.

First, the research that illustrated the challenge the NFL was facing.

Either turn kids onto the NFL before their 18th birthday or struggle afterwards.

Second, you target a segment based on behavior.

These were kids that were under-18 that were maybe not engaged with sports content. So the NFL picked a partner in Nickelodeon that has a modest TV viewership, but a history of innovation and excitement around their programming. Along with a President that has spent the last 3 years on rebuilding the anticipation and excitement around the network.

Finally, by picking to play in this area, Nickelodeon picked a segment with strong spillover.

Because the NFL and Nickelodeon are partnering, there is large spillover in two areas, at least. First, the group of parents that are watching Nick with their kids that might not be natural football watchers. And, you have adults that are football fans that can turn their kids onto the sport through the lens of being able to watch a kid themed broadcast.

Does this guarantee that the NFL is going to win over new viewers or find that the idea is successful?


But what it does show us is that doing real marketing can lead you to some interesting innovations.

For what its worth, my 10 year-old-son, an avid fan, thinks the presentation is cool but he’s itching to turn back to the normal broadcast.

But he may not be in the target segment. And that is totally fine. That’s what targeting is all about.

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