The question is: are you?
Saturday night, April 3, 2021, the Islanders are hosting the Philadelphia Flyers in a game that’s sure to have ramifications on this season’s playoff race — let’s be honest, every game in this unusual season has playoff implications.
But that’s not what you need to be ready for. What you NEED to be ready for is the wonderfully wacky intersection where hockey — specifically Islanders hockey — meets the goofy, sometimes nostalgic content that is owned and created by Nickelodeon.
That’s right, you read that correctly. The Islanders and Nickelodeon are on a crash course towards FUN!
For on the night of April 3, 2021, Nickelodeon will be taking over the Islanders social and digital channels in a cross-promotional night that will appeal to Isles fans young and old. Shortly after the team announced this partnership on Thursday March 25th, yours truly had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with the Islanders’ Director of Game Presentation, Danielle Lewis, who has been part of the team leading the way for this exciting takeover.
And when I asked Lewis about why now? Why so late in the season, she replied: “we had some initial conversations with Nickelodeon months ago.”
“We were just trying to see kind of what a collaboration with them would look like,” continued Lewis. “And then once the schedule was released, we were aiming towards an April 3rd game. We weren’t sure the landscape of how games would look, but we had a very strong digital presence that we thought, especially with our second screen experience app, we could really kind of blow out a game, have the amazing collaboration with a company the caliber that Nickelodeon is, to be able to pull off a very fun and engaging, kind of full game experience; even if you are not at the arena.”
She further explained that the Islanders wanted to make sure this collaboration was done on a weekend game since it would tie in very nicely with the family-friendly content Nickelodeon produces. It’s just a coincidence the Nassaumen’s opponent is the Flyers.
And before any of you start trying to compare what the Isles are looking to do, with what CBS and Nickelodeon did during this year’s Wild-Card game, stop. This won’t be a goofy television broadcast that gets mixed reviews. The Islanders will still have their normal, traditional broadcast with Brendan Burke and Butch Goring on the call (barring something unforeseen).
“We are featuring our game trailer, which will run in the arena,” Lewis explained. “But you will not see any takeover when it comes to the players, physically on the ice or coaches. Everything we’re kind of keeping to the video board, in the stands, or in our second screen experience app.”
For fans not physically in attendance, you will be able to take in the Nickelodeon themed antics on the Isles social media accounts as well as on their second screen experience app — HomeIce Experience, which is powered by the HomeTurf app.
“For any type of tune-in information, there’s definitely the digital aspect of it,” said Lewis. “So, anyone who’s looking to tune-in, of course, you’re following our Islanders social media accounts, but you really want to tune-in via our second screen experience app, which is HomeIce Experience; powered by the HomeTurf app. If you’re in the app store or you’re on Google Play, you’re looking for HomeTurf and then you’re selecting our team, as far as the Islanders.”
The fun doesn’t stop there though.
“With regards to anything that’s in the arena, there are fan cutouts that we have throughout the arena,” explained Lewis. “You’ve seen them on the broadcast before. We are having select and very special character cutouts, which will be in the arena.”
“Within HomeIce Experience, you will have the opportunity to win prizes. The first 100 people on the leaderboard will be able to win a lobster plush, which is true to what our fans have embraced, which is the Amanda Show. You win prizes within HomeIce Experience by participating in trivia, polls and in the chat. And we have something called ‘Team Scream’ as well, where fans are able to kind of show their enthusiasm for the team and their love of the team and scream into the phone and cheer the team on. And that’s another way to earn points within the app. So, the first 100 will get those (lobster plushies).”
In case any of you aren’t hip to the lobster plush craze, I suggest you check out the Islanders team Twitter account as they post a meme or gif after most of the team’s wins that is a direct reference to The Amanda Show.
Those were the days, weren’t they? When you would sit in front of the television for hours on end watching as the dancing lobsters entered the courtroom. But I digress.
For those of you either too young to know what The Amanda Show was, or for those of you old enough to know but weren’t a fan of it, there will be plenty of other Nickelodeon themed activations included in this promotional night.
“We’re looking at a full co-branded takeover,” Lewis told me. “So, you will have your staple Nickelodeon items like slime.”
Just picture it now, Mathew Barzal scores a goal and on the app kids will see an image of the Isles superstar celebrating on the ice and getting doused with green slime. That will definitely get kids interested.
For the adults on the app, maybe you prefer to possibly see an image of Butch Goring covered in slime while wearing a suit and a broadcasting headset. (Sorry Butch, but I volunteer you as tribute. I can almost guarantee you that Brendan Burke, Shannon Hogan and the rest of the Isles MSG Network crew would agree.) Again, I digress.
According to Lewis, it won’t just be the items like slime that make an appearance in the app and on social media. “Fans should expect to see some of your 90s cartoons like SpongeBob, Rugrats and Hey Arnold.”
Then of course, (there’ll be) Nick Jr. (as well),” continued Lewis. “So, we’re reaching across all the different kinds of properties that Nickelodeon has. Your Blues Clues, Paw Patrol, things that are also more so along the lines of their Nick Jr. properties.”
“So, (we’re) really looking to showcase all of those elements within the video that we have leading up (to it). (The) game trailers, (which are) something we post prior to every game. So, a full takeover with slime included with our game trailer against Philly. A lot of our hype video surrounding it. And then with any theme night that we have, we look to fully brand. So, your power-play graphic will have the full Nickelodeon-Islanders, co-branded look. Your goal graphics, things like that. Your player headshots. Everything. We’ll just have this fully branded look.”
I know a lot of this sounds wacky and probably deviates from your typical vision of what a hockey game looks like on digital and social media. But this is the way the world has been trending. People are no longer content to sit back and watch a game on their televisions. Fans have their phones, laptops, tablets, etc. all open to various different apps in order to soak in the multitude of different tidbits that come their way in regards to their favorite teams and players. And as society gets more immersed in this new way of consuming sports, it’s crucial for teams like the Islanders to get creative, if even a bit weird, to entice fans of all ages to tune-in via non-traditional methods.
“The Islanders fan base spans generations,” said Lewis. “So, you have different Islanders fans who grew up with different shows. Whether it’s the current shows on Nick Jr. or the 90s shows, or they have kids who have watched these shows. There’s some type of relevance to any Islanders fan. So, when it comes to 90s shows, we actually have an activation where, within HomeIce Experience, we have trivia and we are taking the Double Dare, their brand around that and we’re having Sparky do a physical challenge, which is one of the things that happened throughout the show.”
Don’t worry fans, Sparky is a big, strong dragon, I’m sure he can handle any of the Double Dare physical challenges that get thrown his way. (Sparky, if you’re reading this, just in case, you might want to roll back some of the clips from Double Dare and start practicing).
“(We’re just) looking to make sure that we’re hitting all the different properties,” concluded Lewis. “Like I said, Nick Jr., Nick itself and then the 90s properties as well. And just make sure it’s well-rounded so you do have that sense of nostalgia and then you have it for the current kids and families as well.”
Islanders fans, you’re in for a real treat with this theme night and you can expect plenty more nights like this in the future as Danielle Lewis and her team will continue to look for new, fun, innovative ways for you to enjoy the Boys from Long Island; whether you’re inside Nassau Coliseum, UBS Arena or anywhere else.
Oh and in case some of you didn’t get my opening quote to this piece, it’s a quote from SpongeBob, who you will surely see in some way, shape or form on April 3rd.
Do you feel ready now? ‘Cause, “I’M READY!”