The Heidi game

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n American football, the Heidi Game refers to a famous American Football League (AFL) game between the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders, played on November 17, 1968 in Oakland, California. The fame of this game is the result of a decision by the NBC television network to terminate their broadcast with 65 seconds left to play in the game and instead broadcast a pre-scheduled airing of Heidi, a new made-for-TV version of the classic children’s story.

With the Jets leading 32-29 with only 65 seconds left in the game, NBC programmers concluded that the outcome of the football game was decided. And while only 65 seconds remained on the game clock, in American football—with timeouts and other clock-stopping strategies—a minute can easily last ten or fifteen real-time minutes. Eager to maintain their evening schedule, the network switched off the ostensibly-decided game.

However, the Raiders came back and scored 14 points, winning 32-43. But millions of American football fans were unable to see Oakland’s comeback. The complaints to the network switchboard signaled a new height of popularity for the game in the United States.

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36 COMMENTS

  1. The score scrolling on the bottom of the screen as a girl tries desperately to walk was unintentionally hilarious

  2. People of east coast who turned to the Jets game but suddenly NBC east coast affiliates including kxas tv filp to Heidi movie while west coast affiliates including knbc finished the game what the hell is this? Many Jets fans are anger.

  3. They went to commercial with :50 left and then Heidi started after the break.
    And west coast audiences saw the end…Heidi came on at 7/6 central.

  4. Everyone on the west coast saw the whole game. I can’t imagine how many Jets fans went to bed thinking the Jets won. Only to see the morning paper saying the Raiders won. As I’m sure a lot of fans turned off the tv after they switched it

  5. I was only 3 weeks old so I do not remember this, but my father has said that he left to go to the bathroom. When he got back ad saw that Heidi was on he asked my mother "Why do you change the channel?"

  6. I remember it very well. I was watching the game with my father, and brother. My brother and I were young enough, that we didn't care all that much. My father, on the other hand………

  7. I would've been very happy when Heidi interrupted the match, since I hate rugby. Still, they should've started Heidi at 19:05 instead.

  8. Before the Steelers became a winning team and the AFL was more exciting than the NFL, I was a diehard Raiders fan. I was watching this game intensely when NBC cut to that disgusting kid's movie. Man I was pissed and even more pissed after I found out how the game concluded. Exciting times, though.

  9. In all honesty, why would you show the last couple of minutes of a game when you are receiving a TON of money from sponsors to show a movie?  NBC was honoring their sponsor contract.  Sure, as a fan, I'd have gone nuts, too.  I wish the actual FULL minutes not shown on tv were available, not just what we see over and over.

  10. Game 6, of the 2008 ALCS, 40 yrs after Heidi Game, I remember, As a Red Sox fan, missed the first few innings, because TBS was showing something else. Red Sox won the game 4-2, but thank goodness, the game on TBS did not show the entire program. I said, "this reminds me of the Heidi game." I was not alive for the worst moment in television history, but the public had every right, 50 yrs ago today, to rip and blast NBC. Hope that won't happen again. Could you imagine it happening during a hard fought game, in World Series, NHL Stanley Cup Final, Game 7, NBA Final Game 7, or the Super Bowl? Then, they show a children's program, or a movie, millions of people would blast ABC, NBC, CBS, ESPN, Fox Sports, Fox Sports 1, or any other channel with a sports channel. Jets would get revenge, on December 29th, 1968, with beating Raiders, 27-23, at Shea Stadium, at NYC.

  11. At 2:49 😂😂😂 Perfect timing for a metaphoric image, as the update reveals the great comeback by the Raiders!

  12. In 2005, TV Guide designated the Heidi Game at #6 on its list of the "100 Most Unexpected TV Moments" in history. Interviewed by the magazine, Jennifer Edwards, title star of Heidi, commented: "My gravestone is gonna say, 'She was a great moment in sports.'"

  13. Aside from the outrage, keep in mind that at that time, there was no rebroadcast, no internet or you tube or even VCRs to record the game (so you could buy or borrow the game from others). If you missed it, you didn’t get to see the end, until now.. only 50 years later!

  14. In Mexico is worse, in the 80s the state channel (now TV Azteca) cut one live and exclusive game of the NBA Finals broadcast with a minute left to put a shitty newscast and 30 minutes later show the rest of the game.

  15. This would NEVER HAPPEN TO AN NFL GAME TODAY. Still remember being Pissed off, when they cut to Hiedi, although from Wisconsin and a Packet Fan (and owner) I love Broaway Joe… eleven rooted for the Jets and the AFL in the Super Bowl

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