In the 1960s, sports entertainment was nothing close to the 24-hour juggernaut it is today. There was no such thing as cable TV and sports coverage on the major broadcast networks was confined to local teams, magazine programs like "The Wide World of Sports," and the occasional World Series. That's why it seemed like such a risky proposition 45 years ago to broadcast a football game nationally on a Monday night in primetime.
When the National Football League approached NBC and CBS with the idea of "Monday Night Football," the networks didn't want to risk losing their audiences for the "Doris Day Show" and "Laugh-In" [source: ABC Sports Online]. The president of ABC Sports, however, saw the potential of turning a conventional football game into a primetime spectacle. Roone Arledge doubled the amount of cameras used during games, produced flashy graphics and created the first three-man broadcasting "team," which included the legendary Howard Cosell [source: ABC Sports Online].
"Monday Night Football" premiered in 1970, and is the longest-running series on American television. More importantly for ABC, it's also one of the highest-rated TV series on the air, especially with young male viewers, a key demographic for advertisers. ABC moved the show to sister network ESPN in 2006, where it continues to bring in record audiences every week. "Monday Night Football" tallied six of the 10 biggest cable TV audiences in 2013 [source: Hofheimer].
To her credit, Doris Day is 90, and lookin' great!
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