Well, this is certainly one way to welcome young viewers into the world of football. ESPN announced it’s giving fans an alternate live NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Jacksonville Jaguars that will be fully animated in the “Toy Story” universe.
The event, titled “Toy Story Funday Football,” will stream on Disney+, ESPN+ and NFL+ (mobile only) on October 1 at 9:30 a.m. ET. It will air the same time as the real NFL International Series game, which takes place at Wembley Stadium in London.
Subscribers in over 95 markets will be able to watch the special presentation, including in the U.K., Mexico, Brazil and France.
“Toy Story Funday Football” will replicate on-the-field gameplay with animated Falcon and Jaguar players — who don’t have faces, for some reason – running around on a traditional-looking field in Andy’s room. Viewers can watch every run, pass and score in real time through “state-of-the-art tracking technology,” wrote ESPN in a press release, enabled by the NFL’s Next Gen Stats player tracking data and AI-based visualization company Beyond Sports.
Additionally, fan-favorite “Toy Story” characters like Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jesse and Bo Peep will watch from the sidelines along with kid-friendly announcers explaining what’s happening throughout the game.
The event will also feature a halftime show stunt from Duke Caboom, the motorcycle stuntman voiced by Keanu Reeves in “Toy Story 4,” as well as pre-recorded interviews from real-life Falcons and Jaguar players.
“Toy Story Funday Football” is the NFL’s latest attempt at making American football more appealing to children. In 2021, the league aired a kid-friendly version of the NFL’s Wild Card matchup on Nickelodeon. Separately, Roblox hosted a family-friendly virtual Saweetie concert for last year’s Super Bowl pregame.
This recent collaboration with Disney+ will likely be a success for the NFL since “Toy Story” is one of the highest-grossing franchises that has captured the hearts of multiple generations.