Did you catch the NFL’s telecast of one of their Wild Card Playoff games on Nickelodeon last week? Yes, I said Nickelodeon!!! Interesting combination, huh?

After hearing about it, I decided to give, at least, one quarter a view. I wound up watching the ENTIRE game. It was, probably, the most entertaining, fun TV sports event I’ve seen since Howard and Dandy Don left Monday Night Football!

The more I watched, the more I kept thinking about the parallels with radio. Here were two long-standing entities in a very unlikely partnership that produced interesting results. The NFL wanted to tap into a younger audience and Nickelodeon looked to grow theirs. Sliming touchdowns, Sponge Bob splitting the uprights, animated fruit on players’ heads, a young star of a hit CBS TV show explaining penalties (nice cross promotion!!) and three booth announcers bringing something different to the broadcast. It wasn’t for the football afficionado, but it did get attention and accomplished interesting goals for each partner. For the NFL, they may have picked up some added interest from a younger demographic. For the network? The broadcast picked up 2.06 million viewers making it the most watched program on Nickelodeon in FOUR years!

Here is a network that finds a way to offer something that’s part of our everyday lives – sports – and does it at their target age group’s level. It’s not the “money” demo’ so to speak but, guess what? – those in that 25-54 “money” demo were watching WITH their kids. A great way to connect the two. Parents loved it for two reasons (if you read a lot of the social posts) – their kids were enjoying it and it was a really fresh way to watch football. A bonus is it may have actually drawn the family together for a fun TV show for everyone. When was the last time THAT happened?

The lesson for radio is on a much larger scale? Take a chance. Do something no one has done before. Give an idea a shot even if it’s one hour, one daypart, one day!! Create something that is memorable without attaching all of those rules about PPM, clocks, talk limits, and demographic!!. GO FOR IT as Nickelodeon did.  They took a chance with pro sports on a kids’ network. What did they have to lose? Nothing! They had everything to gain and the numbers prove it! I’m thinking this won’t be the last football game they will broadcast.

How does this all relate to COUNTRY radio? The music, the artists, the stations – we are all hugely connected. Find those different ways to draw attention to that dynamic that is so important to the genre. Hats off to Dave Parker at WUSH in Norfolk, VA with his Six String Country show – 3 hours on a Saturday morning that is totally different, totally unexpected and very successful!

We have learned this past year how to explore different connections with the country audience without concerts, live shows and meet and greets. Take a page out of the new NFL-Nickelodeon playbook! Have some REAL fun!!!