Super Bowl LVIII is finally here, and it’s set to be a special one. That’s because Paramount+ will be providing a family-friendly broadcast of the NFL championship game for the first time. The popular Nickelodeon broadcast of NFL holiday games will be heading to Allegiant Stadium for Super Bowl 58 between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs. The big game will kick off today and will be broadcast on CBS and Nickelodeon, and streamed on Paramount+.
Honoring its 25th anniversary, the cast of SpongeBob SquarePants will highlight Nickelodeon’s coverage. SpongeBob (voiced by Tom Kenny) and Patrick Star (voiced by Bill Fagerbakke) will join CBS Sports analyst Nate Burleson and play-by-play announcer Noah Eagle to call the game. Sandy Cheeks (voiced by Carolyn Lawrence) will join the group as a sideline reporter.
The much-loved SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon has reigned as the most-watched animated series for 21 consecutive years, making this Super Bowl alternate broadcast one to watch. This isn’t the first foray into the broadcast spectrum for Fagerbakke, who had a viral moment making his broadcasting debut in the NickMas game in 2022.
“That was just kind of me responding from all the endless trivia and details we as sports fans immerse ourselves in,” Fagerbakke told CBS Sports as he laughed reliving the moment. “That was such a great quote a few years back about Russell Wilson to just let Russ cook, so it just bubbled out. I was enjoying the Rams not being awful (Fagerbakke is a Rams fan).
“We’re all about the bubbles in Bikini Bottom, Jeff,” Kenny added.
How to watch Super Bowl LVIII
Kenny will join Fagerbakke in the broadcast booth for this one, as SpongeBob joins the Nickelodeon family-friendly broadcast for the first time. SpongeBob himself couldn’t contain his level of excitement for the opportunity.
“It’s great! I’ve done motion capture stuff before, but never attached to the biggest live sporting event on Earth,” Kenny said. “It’s gonna be a ball, we’re just gonna be ad libbing in character.
“You just gotta be SpongeBob, looking around, seeing what’s happening, and cracking dumb jokes about it in real time. That’s how I spent my entire 61-year lifespan, just looking around and cracking dub jokes about stuff!
“What could possibly go wrong? Don’t answer that!”
Will SpongeBob do his trademark laugh? This will be harder to pull off with motion capture.
“I don’t know. You just brought up an interesting thing I just thought up,” Kenny said. “For me to do the laugh, I have to cheat with my hands (does laugh). Does that mean that SpongeBob’s hand goes to SpongeBob’s Adam’s apple? Does he have one?
“You can’t do it when we are on the air,” Fagerbakke added. “We won’t always be in the frame!”
“Since it’s motion capture, everything my body does — SpongeBob’s body does,” Kenny said. “I’m gonna have to pick and choose my moments. I was feeling pretty good about this until you just dashed whatever confidence I had!”
Just like a live sporting event, there’s preparation but not a rehearsal to cover a football game. SpongeBob and Patrick practiced the motion capture, but the game itself will play out similar to Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, and Tracy Wolfson on CBS.
“When you say rehearsed, that implies that we ‘hearsed,’ ” Kenny joked. “We haven’t pre-hearsed, hearsed, or rehearsed! All that real time stuff is what sportscasters do all the time. We’re just kind doing what they’re doing, just in a stupider way.”
What can viewers watching the game expect? There will be “Sweet Victory” performed prior to the game, the popular song from SpongeBob played at the conclusion of “Band Geeks,” which is arguably the most popular episode in the show’s 25-year history.
It’s also Kenny’s favorite episode.
“That got kind of tied into the Super Bowl,” Kenny said. “This time you won’t get to look at Adam Levine’s six-pack while watching it! Not that I sit around and obsessively watch SpongeBob, but if I’m on an airplane and see a kid watching it. I’m kind of like ‘tee hee.’
“Band Geeks is the one.”
In addition to Kenny’s trademark SpongeBob laugh, Lawrence said he couldn’t wait to bring up the Travis Kelce-Taylor Swift relationship. “I know I’m gonna have to say Taylor’s man is hotter than a hickory-smoked sausage!’ Lawrence laughed as she referred to Sandy Cheeks’ famous line.
SpongeBob SquarePants has had 277 episodes over 25 seasons since it debuted on July 17, 1999. The show has captivated multiple generations of fans and is one of the most valuable entertainment franchises in the world.
“Because of SpongeBob, I’ve been ending up in places I never thought I could be: on Broadway, waving a checkered flag at a NASCAR race, at the Super Bowl. The memories keep on coming,” Kenny said. “I’m so excited to do the Super Bowl, but I’m even more excited about when the game is over, everything went okay, and we’re kicking back and remembering it — in a positive way!
“Every time a young adult says to me ‘thank you for my childhood,’ my heart gets all mushy,” Fagerbakke said. “That’s a fantastic thing to experience.”
No matter what happens on Super Bowl Sunday, SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy will have fun. The family-friendly telecast of NFL games has been a hit since its inception in the 2020 season, and there’s a reason why.
“That was a revelation for me last year. This incredible, gladiator, spectator concept. They get to have fun!,” Fagerbakke said. “How much fun they had and how much they got to enjoy it.
“The whole CBS Sports crew, they’re so good and they’re so excited to do this. Why? Because it’s silly. They get to do a different kind of football game.”