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NFL Throws Playoffs TV Pass to Kids, Streamers

The National Football League will kick off its 2020 playoff season with two additional playoff teams and several new, and somewhat surprising, TV distribution outlets.

NFL team owners voted Tuesday to add one additional Wild Card team in the AFC and the NFC for a total of 14 playoff teams, according to ESPN.  (opens in new tab)Under the new playoffs format, only the top seeded playoff team in each conference will get a first-round bye. Previously, first and second-seeded teams in each conference received first-round byes. 

The traditional wild card weekend will now expand to three games instead of two, with NBC and CBS each telecasting one of the two new playoff games.

On the CBS side, streaming service CBS All Access will also stream the game live, while kids-targeted Nickelodeon will feature its own production of the game targeted to its young audience, according to reports.

For NBC, its soon-to-launch streaming service Peacock will simulcast the game along with Spanish-language network Telemundo.

The NFL's move to include streaming, Spanish-language and kids-targeted services into its television distribution portfolio signifies the league’s desire to not only reach its current fans currently streaming content, but also to groom the next generation of fans.

“The NFL is continuing to hedge its bets,” said sports analyst Lee Berke. “It is continuing to show tremendous support to broadcasters because they can step up with the dollars necessary, but it is also saying that there’s a strong Spanish-speaking audience that we want to cater to, there’s a younger audience we want to attract and there’s a streaming audience we want to be part of.” 

R. Thomas Umstead
R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.