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November 17, 2022 10:46 am  #1


54th Anniversary Of One Of The Most Famous Screw-Ups In TV History

It was November 17, 1968 - exactly 54 years ago - a day that would live in infamy amongst NFL fans and forever leave one of the biggest networks in the U.S. red-faced. It happened in the middle of a lengthy AFL Championship game between the N.Y. Jets and the Oakland Raiders, the one in which then superstar New York QB Joe Namath guaranteed fans a win. His team was ahead with just minutes to go and a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. 

What happened next will never be forgotten. NBC had endlessly promoted its Sunday night movie, "Heidi" and was bound and determined to make sure it ran at its 7 PM start time come hell or high water. It turned into hell, since the network brass decided to cut away from the game in its final minutes, with the Jets in the lead. No one, except those in the stadium, ever saw the Oakland comeback in the last minute of play and the entire incident is now forever enshrined in TV history as "The Heidi Bowl."

The four-minute video below takes you through exactly what happened from both sides and the not unexpected outrage with one of the dumbest decisions in television history. And it changed TV forever - to this day, no matter what's been scheduled or when, no network will ever cut into a sports broadcast for any reason to start a show on time. It's what drives me crazy about trying to watch anything on Sunday nights with so many flexible start times.  And we have NBC and a little Swiss girl named Heidi to thank for it. 

 

November 17, 2022 11:21 am  #2


Re: 54th Anniversary Of One Of The Most Famous Screw-Ups In TV History

CBC evidently didn’t fully learn from this, given what happened in 1987 that led to the infamous Dave Hodge pen flip. In that case I believe they were determined to air The National.

 

November 17, 2022 11:27 am  #3


Re: 54th Anniversary Of One Of The Most Famous Screw-Ups In TV History

MJ Vancouver wrote:

CBC evidently didn’t fully learn from this, given what happened in 1987 that led to the infamous Dave Hodge pen flip. In that case I believe they were determined to air The National.

I'd forgotten about the Canadian version of "Heidi." Thanks for the reminder!

To show you how seriously the networks now take sports interruptions, both John Lennon's shooting and the infamous O.J. slow speed chase didn't get in the way of sporting events on the networks as they were going on. As I recall, NBC - yes, that network again - was in the middle of the NBA finals and reduced the screen size of the game to cover the Bronco going down an L.A. highway - but the game was still shown.

Howard Cosell infamously broke the news of the Lennon shooting on Monday Night Football, but the game went on. 

     Thread Starter
 

November 17, 2022 12:03 pm  #4


Re: 54th Anniversary Of One Of The Most Famous Screw-Ups In TV History

Just a correction. The "Heidi" game was a regular season telecast. Oakland scored two TD's in the final 90 seconds which was only seen by viewers in the Mountain and Pacific time zones. The 90 second segment was shown on the Monday Huntley-Brinkley Report. The AFL Championship game was held Dec 29th where the Jets defeated the Raiders 27-23.