49 years ago…

NBC made one of the most egregious screwups in broadcasting history…

Anybody remember the Heidi Bowl?

Bonus points if you do, if you don’t it’s below the break…

 On November 17, 1968, the Oakland Raiders score two touchdowns in nine seconds to beat the New York Jets–and no one saw it, because they’re watching the movie Heidi instead. With just 65 seconds left to play, NBC switched off the game in favor of its previously scheduled programming, a made-for-TV version of the children’s story about a young girl and her grandfather in the Alps.

What happened was the Jets kicked a 26-yard field goal that gave them a 32-29 lead. After the New York kickoff, the Raiders returned the ball to their own 23-yard line. Two plays later, Oakland scored a touchdown, 36-32 Oakland now leads. The Jets fumbled the kickoff, and Oakland recovered and ran it in for another touchdown. Oakland had scored twice in nine seconds, and the game was over: 43-32 Oakland wins!

However there was a problem… NBC execs tried to keep the game on, but they couldn’t get through to the control room… So many irate fans called NBC that the network’s switchboard blew. Then people started calling the telephone company, the New York Times and the NYPD, whose emergency lines they clogged for hours.

After that, the NFL inserted a clause into its TV contracts that guaranteed that all games would be broadcast completely in their home markets. For its part, NBC installed a new phone–the “Heidi Phone”–in the control room that had its own exchange and switchboard.

And the rest is history…



49 years ago… — 14 Comments

  1. NBC – making bad decisions and screwing stuff up for five decades.

  2. Aha, that’s why I’ve loathed games for ages as they always messed up the schedule.

  3. I miss Chet, and David. When they were anchoring the news, there was an honest effort to provide accurate information. Since their time, NBC became “Nimrod Broadcasting Continuously”

  4. Hey Old NFO;

    What is this “NFL” that you talk of….My memory is fuzzy on that subject.

  5. I was in high school at the time, living in far northern California. Our TV signal was broadcast from Klamath Falls, Oregon. We got to see the whole game. IIRC, some other areas did too. I miss the old days of Ben Davidson, Fred Biletnikoff, and Warren Wells.

  6. I remember it happening but since I was living in Alaska at the time we didn’t get ANY live tv – except for local news and weather. Everything was on a tape delay (any where from 2 to 4 weeks – the Man From Uncle was the Grandpa From Uncle by the time we got it)from the Seattle stations, complete with commercials.

  7. That was back when people wanted to watch NFL games, and cared about the outcomes of them. Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

  8. Yep, remember that well. The NY Jets leading by 3 scores and finding out later the Raiders had won!!!??? WTF?

    Man, how quickly the unimaginable can happen in any sport. That was a classic and ALL media learned a big lesson on the clusterf**k.

  9. I remember it. I was taking drafting that year in HS, and my drafting teacher mentioned it with some heat. We had a discussion about TV and programming in general.

  10. Not that I really cared about the outcome of the game ’cause I dislike the Jets with a passion but it was a great big WTF after it happened! I was happy as a clam!

  11. It was a golden time. A time before the hatred of America had taken root. A time when you could root for a team and watch the game and stand for the National Anthem. A time that has passed and is quickly being forgotten.

    It will not come again.