In previous seasons, the youth-aimed Slimetime broadcast on Nickelodeon was a huge hit. But in the end, it was simply a simulcast with kid-themed scorebugs and graphics. This year, starting in Week 4, ESPN is producing an animated version of the game from Andy's Room in the Toy Story universe.
Both team's players are being real-time animated into Pixar characters.
The opening game testing this out will be the 9:30 ET a.m. kickoff between the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 4. The game, played in London, positions perfectly with that weekend cartoon hour, making it a good test case for the kids.
The broadcast is complete with motion capture suits for broadcasters Drew Carter and Booger McFarland. Here's a deeper look from the Walt Disney Company at how this idea came to be.
Various Toy Story characters are playing a part. Slinky Dog is the first down marker, and the game also features the claw setting the ball for each down:
Of course, the eternal kid Bijan Robinson gave us one of the first big plays on Andy's Carpet:
X (formerly Twitter) users had plenty of thoughts on the unique and experimental broadcast.
Twitter users having a field day with the fun of NFL in Toy Story universe
Unfortunately, the broadcast didn't work out of the gate...
Of course, even that prompted jokes, though:
Fans immediately went dark and recalled one of the most horrifying scenes of the Toy Story canon, involving a trash incinerator.
Adults tuning in were feeling their inner child:
Fans wondered what a capture might look like if players who have disdain for each other got in a scuffle. Maybe it was misguided to not put Buccaneers vs Saints in London this week?
Here's one more reason they should have gotten the Saints on this game:
Fans are definitely intrigued, at the very least, to watch football this way.