American football is one of the most popular televised sports in the world. This includes the professional National Football League (NFL) as well as many college football games. The Super Bowl, which is the most important game of the NFL, is constantly one of the most watched events on U.S. television. The NFL television rights are the most lucrative of any American sport and it is estimated that these rights have actually determined the ultimate success of some television networks. However, the professional competition was not always this strong. In fact, it was the emergence of regular television broadcasts that helped the professional game succeed. Today the ability to watch a football game from anywhere in the country is taken for granted, but it wasn’t always this way. Let’s find out when the first ever telecast of a football game took place.
The first televised game of American football
The first televised football game occurred on September 30, 1939 when the Waynesburg Yellow Jackets played the Fordham Rams at Triborough Stadium in New York. This college football game was broadcast by NBC and announced by the famous sportscaster Bill Stern. The game was broadcast on the experimental station W2XBS (now called WNBC) and received by about 1,000 television sets. NBC used just 1 camera for the broadcast. For the record the Rams won 34-7.
Other important football telecasts
The first broadcast of a professional football game occurred on October 22, 1939 when NBC broadcast the Philadelphia Eagles and Brooklyn Dodgers game from Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. This game was also broadcast on experimental station W2XBS. This game was also broadcast at the World’s Fair in New York.
On September 29, 1951 the first national broadcast of a live football game occurred when Duke played the University of Pittsburgh. This was also the first live sporting event shown coast-to-coast.
On November 8, 1998 the first HD NFL television broadcast took place when the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets played at the Giants Stadium.
December 2008 saw the first 3D broadcast of an NFL game. However, this wasn’t available to the public and was only availably to selected guests in specially equipped theaters. The first 3D transmission available to the public occurred during the NFL preseason of 2010.
Did you know?
The 2014-2022 broadcast rights to the NFL will cost a staggering $39.6 billion shared between CBS, NBC, Fox and ESPN.
Bill Stern also announced the first telecast of a Major League Baseball game and was also one of the first to announce televised boxing bouts.