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Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob-themed Super Bowl might be the best way to watch, at this point

It’s great viewing if you’re less familiar with the game

An image of two sports commentators, SpongBob SquarePants and Patrick Star sitting behind a commentary desk for the 2024 Nickelodeon broadcast of the Super Bowl. Image: Paramount via YouTube
Ana Diaz (she/her) is a culture writer at Polygon, covering internet culture, fandom, and video games. Her work has previously appeared at NPR, Wired, and The Verge.

The best Super Bowl of 2024 wasn’t broadcast by CBS out of the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. It took place beneath the crystalline cartoon waters in Bikini Bottom.

For the first time ever, CBS Sports and Nickelodeon teamed up to provide viewers with an official alternate broadcast of the big game. This year, those tuning into the 2024 Super Bowl on Sunday had an option to choose between watching the standard telecast or a Nickelodeon broadcast hosted by none other than SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star. While I appreciate the standard telecast for all its blockbuster-sized commercials, I’m here to tell you that Nickelodeon’s broadcast is my new standard, whenever the rights-holder stars align.

Over on Nick — the actual channel, as the event wasn’t streamed — animated versions of SpongeBob and Patrick hosted the show alongside CBS Sports analyst Nate Burleson and announcer Noah Eagle. While the two professional sports announcers brought classic NFL banter to the game, a lot of the commentary also consisted of the two animated characters (played by Tom Kenny and Bill Fagerbakke, respectively) singing songs like “Best Day Ever” and telling tons of corny jokes.

An image of Sandy Cheeks doing live commentary from the sidelines in the Nickelodeon stream of the Super Bowl. Image: Paramount

The broadcast included other flourishes edited into the live footage by the production team. Nick’s game gave the digital first-down line a pineapple pattern. Touchdowns resulted in either a deluge of Krabby Patties lobbed into the roaring crowd or a stream of classic Nickelodeon green slime “poured” over everyone in the seats. At one point, Larry the Lobster walked right onto the field and did a “personal foul” in his pants.

The animation didn’t end at the sidelines. Nickelodeon would routinely cut away to a digital audience of the bug-eye anchovies from SpongeBob cheering on the teams. Throughout the game, the broadcast showed footage of animated fish-inspired personas of various celebrities like “LePrawn James,” “Billie Eelish,” and “Herring Styles.” A few famous faces, however, went without caricatures but were still the subject of bits: Taylor Swift attended the Super Bowl this year to watch Travis Kelce play for the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Nickelodeon team leaned in. The broadcasters incorporated plenty of Taylor Swift puns inspired by her music in their commentary, and it featured footage of Taylor Swift, often showed a picture-in-picture theme of her watching the game, and added plenty of fun jokes about Kelce.

While the broadcast was designed to appeal to a younger audience, it turned out to be a fun and accessible way to watch the game for anyone who appreciates the finer qualities of Nicktoons. I loved that the producers acknowledged Swift and leaned into her presence in the game, since her attendance likely brought a lot of new fans. And if you happened to be a football newbie, characters like Dora the Explorer were there to pop up on screen and explain rules — like what a false start is — to viewers. The Nickelodeon version was just a more light-hearted and relaxed way to watch the game when compared to the high-stakes energy of the regular broadcast.

The gimmick appeared to be a hit with fans too, prompting people to share their favorite moments from the game.

Generally speaking, Nickelodeon’s version of the broadcast seemed to be a success. If anything, I hope this makes the case for the licensing gods to come down to earth and grant viewers more personalized ways of watching events like these in the future. The 2025 Super Bowl will be broadcast on Fox, so no SpongeBob tie-in until the rights go back to CBS — but I’ll be anxious for it to return.

If you’re curious to see more Super Bowl 2024 coverage on the non-Nickelodeon version, check out some of the best trailers and commercials shown at the event.

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