Saturday Scenes

Fri 23 November 2012

The Heidi Phone

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 15:02

On the 17th of October in 1968, sports history was made in American football. The match: Oakland Raiders against the New York Jets. The game was broadcast across the nation on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). But at 7pm, the television broadcast broke away from the game in the final minutes, in order to show the planned film for the night: Heidi. Fifteen minutes before the film was to start, NBC executives realised that the game would not end in time and began phoning each other to discuss whether they should broadcast the game or switch to the film so that it would start on-time. They quickly all agreed that the game should continue. However, the switchboard at NBC became overloaded with viewers calling – some wanted to make sure they would get to watch the conclusion of the game, others were asking whether Heidi would start on time. As a result, the executives were not able to get through to state their decision: continue with the game. At 7pm exactly, the footage of the football game stopped and Heide came on air … just one minute before the losing team scored. They scored again and won the game but the sports fans were staring in dismay at a little girl on a Swiss mountain instead.

Heidi Game – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In an attempt to inform the audience of the outcome of the game, NBC flashed the final score across the screen. It did so just as Heidi’s paralyzed cousin, Klara, was taking her first, slow steps. According to sportswriter Jack Clary, “The football fans were indignant when they saw what they had missed. The Heidi audience was peeved at having an ambulatory football score intrude on one of the story’s more touching moments. Short of pre-empting Heidi for a skin flick, NBC could not have managed to alienate more viewers that evening.”

Since then, NBC has a special hotline, referred to as the Heidi phone, connected to a different exchange in order to ensure that staff can always get through to the Broadcast Operations Control.

44 years later on the 17th of October in 2012, these photographs scored touchdowns on Twitter when they were submitted as Saturday Scenes:

And here are the top players who submitted them:

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