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!
For lots more lists of both successful and sorry businesses, check out the related HowStuffWorks links below.
Author's Note: 10 Worst Business Decisions Ever Made
Part of me feels bad playing the armchair quarterback and making fun of these companies for making what turned out to be colossally bad business decisions. And then I remember that few of these companies or individual CEOs are exactly struggling financially. Sure, Excite is looking pretty rough, but it's almost cute in a throwback kind of way. I'm sure none of these executives lose sleep over their lost billions. They're too busy buying real estate in the south of France. Bottom line: Rich people are fair game for ridicule because they can afford not to care. As for me, please be nice.
- ABC Sports Online. "History of ABC's Monday Night Football." Jan. 15, 2003. (May 2, 2014) http://espn.go.com/abcsports/mnf/s/2003/0115/1493105.html
- Arango, Tim. "How the AOL-Time Warner Merger Went So Wrong." The New York Times. Jan. 10, 2010. (May 2, 2014) http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/11/business/media/11merger.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
- BoxOfficeMojo. "All Time Box Office: Domestic Grosses." (May 2, 2014) http://boxofficemojo.com/alltime/domestic.htm
- Brenner, Joel Glenn. "The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars". Broadway Books, 2000. (May 2, 2014) http://www.amazon.com/The-Emperors-Chocolate-Inside-Hershey/dp/0767904575
- Cheung, Nadine. "Digital Camera Inventor Explains How Technology Took Down Kodak." Huffington Post. May 21, 2013. (May 2, 2014) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/21/digital-camera-inventor-kodak-bankruptcy_n_3315622.html
- Clifford, Stephanie. "JC Penney to Revise Pricing Methods and Limit Promotions." The New York Times. Jan. 25, 2012. (May 2, 2014) http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/26/business/jc-penneys-chief-ron-johnson-announces-plans-to-revamp-stores.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper
- Coca-Cola. "Coca-Cola History." (May 2, 2014) http://www.worldofcoca-cola.com/coca-cola-facts/coca-cola-history/
- Daneman, Matthew. "Kodak to stop making digital cameras." USA Today. Feb. 9, 2012. (May 2, 2014) http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2012-02-09/kodak-digital-camera-cuts/53024238/1
- Douglas, Danielle. "Blockbuster may cut more locations as part of bankruptcy." The Washington Post. Oct. 10, 2010. (May 2, 2014) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/10/AR2010101003147.html
- Ehrenberg, Rachel. "The psychology of JC Penney: Why shoppers like it when retailers play games with prices." ScienceNews. April 22, 2013. (May 2, 2014) https://www.sciencenews.org/article/psychology-jc-penney-why-shoppers-it-when-retailers-play-games-prices
- Fortune. "Coca-Cola." (May 2, 2014) http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/2013/snapshots/100.html
- Graser, Marc. "Epic Fail: How Blockbuster Could Have Owned Netflix." Variety. Nov. 12, 2013. (May 2, 2014) http://variety.com/2013/biz/news/epic-fail-how-blockbuster-could-have-owned-netflix-1200823443/
- The Guardian. "Bell Telephone v Western Union (1879)." Aug. 6, 2007. (May 2, 2014) http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2007/aug/06/bellvwestern
- Gustin, Sam. "In Kodak Bankruptcy, Another Casualty of the Digital Revolution." Time. Jan. 20, 2012. (May 2, 2014) http://business.time.com/2012/01/20/in-kodak-bankruptcy-another-casualty-of-the-digital-revolution/
- Hofheimer, Bill. "ESPN's Monday Night Football: Cable's Most-Watched Series for Eighth Straight Year." ESPN Mediazone. Dec. 26, 2013. (May 2, 2014) http://espnmediazone.com/us/press-releases/2013/12/espns-monday-night-football-cables-most-watched-series-for-eighth-straight-year/
- Mauk, Ben. "Last Blues for Blockbuster." The New Yorker. Nov. 8, 2013. (May 2, 2014) http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/currency/2013/11/remembering-blockbuster-with-little-nostalgia.html
- Ngak, Chenda. "Rupert Murdoch tweets 'we screwed up' on MySpace." Jan. 13, 2012 (May 2, 2014) http://www.cbsnews.com/news/rupert-murdoch-tweets-we-screwed-up-on-myspace/
- Rosenwald, Michael S. "At 25, AOL Switches Tracks: Creating content, not just connecting users." The Washington Post. May 24, 2010. (May 2, 2014) http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2010/05/23/ST2010052303894.html?sid=ST2010052303894
- Ross, Michael. "It seemed like a good idea at the time." NBC News. April 22, 2005. (May 2, 2014) http://www.nbcnews.com/id/7209828/ns/us_news/t/it-seemed-good-idea-time/#.U2lIaSjgeSo
- Rushton, Katherine. "Murdoch sale led to ruin of MySpace, says its co-founder." The Telegraph. Nov. 17, 2013. (May 2, 2014) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/digital-media/10455975/Murdoch-sale-led-to-ruin-of-MySpace-says-its-co-founder.html
- Saffir, Doug. "Remembering New Coke, the Ultimate Product Introduction Disaster." Boston.com. April 24, 2014. (May 2, 2014) http://www.boston.com/business/news/2014/04/24/remembering-new-coke-the-ultimate-product-introduction-disaster/xLUg7helHeMrsBBHpPDV4N/story.html
- Siegler, MG. "When Google Wanted to Sell to Excite for Under $1 Million — And They Passed." TechCrunch. Sept. 29, 2010. (May 2, 2014) http://techcrunch.com/2010/09/29/google-excite/
- Stenovec, Timothy. "MySpace History: A Timeline of the Social Network's Biggest Moments." The Huffington Post. June 29, 2011. (May 2, 2014) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/29/myspace-history-timeline_n_887059.html#s299531&title=July_2005_Sale
- Telecommunications Virtual Museum. "The Telephone Patent Follies." (May 2, 2014) http://www.telcomhistory.org/vm/sciencePatentFollies.shtml
- Townsend, Matt. "JC Penney Apologizes in Ad Developed Under Former CEO." Bloomberg. May 2, 2013. (May 2, 2014) http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-01/j-c-penney-apologizes-in-ad-developed-under-former-ceo.html
- Tuttle, Brad. "In Major shake-up, JC Penny Promised No More 'Fake Prices.'" Time. Jan. 26, 2012. (May 2, 2014) http://business.time.com/2012/01/26/in-major-shakeup-j-c-penney-promises-no-more-fake-prices/
HowStuffWorks explains what Small Business Saturday is and whether it really helps small businesses.