Name given to the November 17, 1968 American football game between the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders, more famous for decisions made by the television network NBC than for what happened on the field.

The Jets and Raiders were both 7-2, and considered by many to be the top teams in the AFL. (The Jets would go on to win Super Bowl III weeks later.) In a back-and-forth game, the Jets took the lead, 32-29, with 1:05 to go. NBC went to commercial following the proceeding kickoff return. However, the time was 7:00 PM Eastern and NBC was scheduled to show the made-for-TV movie "Heidi" at that time in the Eastern and Central time zones. NBC was obligated to the sponsors of the showing of Heidi, but there was about a minute to go in the close game. Tough decision?

Easy decision. NBC had written procedures about such things. The person in charge of what NBC was broadcasting hadn't been told anything different, so he switched the network broadcast over to "Heidi", on-time.

Half of the country, including New York, missed the Raiders shockingly scoring two touchdowns in the final 1:05, to pull out a 43-32 win.

NBC's switchboard was flooded with calls from thousands of irate football fans. The network president was forced to issue a public apology.

This game helped establish the importance of sports to television, such that NBC (and the other networks) altered their policies to allow sporting events to be shown until their conclusion.

The effects of the Heidi game can be seen recently. In February 2001, an XFL game between the Los Angeles Xtreme and the Chicago Enforcers (coincidentally, also broadcast on NBC) went into double-overtime. The game's length pushed it into the time period of Saturday Night Live, which was to be a first-run episode hosted by the insanely popular Jennifer Lopez. However, NBC stayed with the XFL game, to the anger of many. SNL was performed live, on-time, but was shown on television after the game, tape-delayed by 45 minutes. The conclusion of a sports event (even the XFL...) had priority over J-Lo.

Thanks Heidi.

Not only was it the middle of November sweeps, but Timex, the main sponsor of the movie, was very concerned that, if "Heidi" didn't start at 7:00, the family audience would switch over to CBS or ABC.

NBC later claimed that their executives had decided, with 7 minutes to go in the game, to stay with it until it ended; however, the switchboard was already acting up, both because of people calling in to ask if "Heidi" would start on time and people calling in to ask if NBC would stay with the game.

Because of all those calls, they were unable to get through to their Broadcast Operations Control department, and so supervisor Dick Cline went with the written guidelines and started playing "Heidi" on the network at 7:00.

The executives finally got through, but not until the game was over. All they could do was have a graphic showing the final score superimposed over "Heidi" a couple of times.

NBC soon installed a telephone in BOC that didn't go through the main switchboard, for just such an emergency.

In 1985, NBC tried to deal with the Sunday night football overruns by producing several 15-minute episodes of the sitcom "Punky Brewster," the idea being that if a game ran a few minutes past 7:00, they could replace the scheduled half hour episode with a 15-minute episode starting at 7:15, and then the rest of their Sunday night schedule could start on time. In practice, however, the timing never quite worked out right, and the 15-minute episodes ended up airing later in the season, combined into a half hour time slot.

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