CBS, NBC Nab New NFL Wild-Card Games in Expanded Season

Brian Steinberg

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The NFL will be seen by a wider crowd – including kids – after the league struck deals with CBS and NBC to show new Wild Card games to audiences via such outlets as Telemundo and Nickelodeon.

The NFL’s various teams approved the expansion of the game’s post-season, a move that had previously been set in motion by the league’s recent bargaining agreement with its players.

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Under the new terms, the NFL would add two Wild Card teams, one from the AFC and one from the NFC, to the playoffs, raising the number of teams involved to 14 from 12.

CBS would get to televise one additional Wild Card game, slated for late afternoon on January 10, and NBC would air one on the same day in the evening. CBS will produce a separate telecast aimed at young viewers for the Nickelodeon channel owned by its parent ViacomCBS, while NBC will also make its Wild Card game available via the streaming-video service Peacock and the Spanish-language network Telemundo, according to a statement released Tuesday by the NFL.

The NFL last expanded the playoffs for the 1990 season, increasing the number of teams that could qualify for the postseason to 12, from 10. Since 1990, at least four new teams have qualified for the playoffs that missed the postseason the year before – a streak of 30 consecutive seasons.

“Players and clubs both recognized that nothing energizes fans like the chance to see their team qualify for the playoffs and compete for the Super Bowl,” the league said in a statement.

Nickelodeon has worked with the NFL in the past. The kids’ network has produced coverage of ancillary Super Bowl events and created special programs filmed on site at several Super Bowls.


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