NFL TESTS KID-ORIENTED TV PROGRAMMING;NETWORK DEBUT EYED FOR FALL; OTHER AGE GROUPS TO FOLLOW

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The National Football League is testing six different TV programming concepts with plans to choose one to launch on Saturday morning or weekday afternoon network TV in the fall.

The six 30-minute concepts target various segments of the kids and teens demographic.

FOOTBALL CARTOONS

On the drawing board: two cartoon series for kids, including one about football-playing superheroes called "NFL Adventure," produced by an undisclosed animation house, and a studio show with a celebrity host that mixes entertainment and NFL news to appeal to both kids and teens.

In addition, the NFL is considering relaunching "Grunt & Punt." A modest hit during its initial run on Fox in the fall of '94, this rah-rah football showcase featured two animated characters named Grunt and Punt commenting on NFL game footage.

NFL Properties, the league's New York-based marketing arm, is working on the project under the leadership of VP-Business Development Don Garber, in conjunction with NFL Films and the league's broadcasting group.

YOUNGER FANS FIRST

"We will settle on one show for the fall that meets our objective of growing closer with our younger fans, but eventually we want a variety of different shows that appeal to different age groups," said Mr. Garber.

The programs could end up on NFL partners ABC, NBC, Fox or Turner Network Television, or on Nickelodeon, said Mr. Garber.

The NFL wants to handle marketing for the shows, selling packages to NFL sponsors.

"We're evaluating a wide variety of venture relationships with networks," said Mr. Garber, with the objective "to create multi-element opportunities for licensees, sponsors and advertisers."

ACTION FIGURES, TOO

The "NFL Adventure" marketing plan calls for the league to create action figures based on the shows' characters.

Another Garber child, "Pop Warner Super Bowl Special: The Biggest Little Game," with highlights of the 1996 Pop Warner Super Bowl in the epic NFL Films style, airs Jan. 20 on NBC. Converse has bought into the show.

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