Television debuted to the masses of the United States at the 1939 World Fair held in New York City when RCA head David Sarnoff showcased the TRK-12 which was the first set available for purchase by the public. Sarnoff also headed the group that began television network broadcasts by granting rights to the newly created NBC for coverage of the opening ceremonies and events of the fair and eventually a regular schedule of broadcasts that would consist of 2 hours in the afternoon and roughly an hour in the evening, what we now know as “Prime Time”.
Later on that year, as television set ownership and viewership continued to grow at a rough rate of 10 percent per week, NBC broadened the scope of what it would show from produced shows to
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Within ten years of that broadcast, a projected 10 million people would watch one of the biggest college football games of the season, the 35th Rose Bowl Game featuring the Big Nine Conference Champion Northwestern Wildcats and the Pacific Coast Conference Champion California Golden Bears. The Golden Bears were 10-0 coming into the matchup in Pasadena and looked well on their way to an undefeated season, until they were abruptly upset by the Wildcats 20-14. This game was just the 3rd meeting under the conference champions agreement which still exists today as part of the Bowl Championship Series and the conferences now known as the Big Ten and Pac 12.
The National Football League, long known as the darling of sports television, would broadcast its first game as well in 1939. On October 22, an 8 man crew led by play-by-play announcer Skip Waltz would transmit that day’s game from Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, NY which featured the Philadelphia Eagles losing to the Brooklyn Football Dodgers 23-14. Waltz’s broadcast was made possible by two iconoscope cameras, one fixed at the 40 yard line and another in the mezzanine deck and reached roughly 500 sets in the New York area. Today, NFL broadcasts reach an average of 16.8 million viewers featuring multiple games per day spread over five networks and that’s just in the United States.
The National Basketball Association broadcast its first game 1953, just three short years after the league was founded. However, it was a cigar