The ‘Heidi’ Game Changed How TV Broadcasts Football Games
The way football games are broadcast changed with one game on November 17, 1968. Fifty-two years ago the infamous “Heidi Game” was broadcast or perhaps I should say, wasn’t broadcast at least until its conclusion.
NBC Television was broadcasting the New York Jets and the Oakland Raider football game. The game was scheduled to end at 6:30 Eastern Time. But due to frequent scoring in the game and several injured players during the contest, the coverage ran beyond 6:30.
As the game was approaching 7 p.m., NBC officials were concerned it would run into the nighttime programming time and they were set to air the television movie Heidi at 7 p.m. With the game already running into regularly scheduled programming time, NBC officials made the decision to continue broadcasting the game because of the closeness of the contest.
That decision to continue broadcasting the football game never got to the programming department of NBC because non-football fans were flooding the NBC phone switchboards with complaints that football was still on. So the call never got through to the right people to hold off playing Heidi. Remember, there were no cellphones then.
New York was leading 32 to 29 with just one minute to play when the time reached 7 p.m. At that point, Heidi came on the air and the game broadcast ending was never seen. What happened next was Oakland scored two touchdowns in the final minute to win the game 43 to 32. So once the switchboard calmed down from non-football fans, it blew up again from football fans who never got to see the final minute of the game especially after NBC placed a crawl on the bottom of the screen of the surprising final score.
The end result of this “Heidi Game” was that television changed the way NFL football is shown on network television as games are now shown to their conclusion before evening programming begins. So now you know what the "Heidi Game" was all about 52 years ago today.