The birth of instant replay

CBS CMO George Schweitzer discusses how instant replay came to be during the 1963 Army-Navy football game

Army-Navy Football

Could you imagine watching football and not being able to see crucial moments played back again?

Well, thanks to CBS Sports, none of us ever has to miss a play. Forty-eight years ago on December 7, 1963, CBS made sports tech history as it introduced the first-ever instant replay during the Army-Navy football game. Before that, all viewers at home could see was the real-time action, as captured by one camera. There were no highlights, no zoom in, and no slow motion. It was a long, drawn-out viewing experience.

Looking for a way to change that and to help viewers at home get the full context of what was happening on the field, CBS Sports director Tony Verna came up with a way to play back video during the live broadcast. The innovation was first used on a routine 1-yard touchdown run by Army quarterback Rollie Stichweh at the end of the game.

CBS immediately re-aired the play, prompting announcer Lindsey Nelson to clarify for home viewers, "This is not live! Ladies and gentlemen, Army did not score again!" People were confused and many called CBS to complain. But within a few years instant replay had become a pivotal part of football coverage and a primary factor in the rise of televised football. That was a very good call.

Think of it as you watch the Army-Navy game Saturday, December 10 at 2:30 p.m. EST on CBS.

Read more:
This day in tech
First use of instant replay
Instant replay: The day that changed sports forever

About the author

    George Schweitzer's position as chief marketing officer at CBS gives him a unique opportunity not only to observe but also to help shape the ways technology is altering the television industry. A communications major at Boston University who joined CBS after graduation some 30 years ago, George is also an unabashed technology geek who specializes in the latest home automation and entertainment gear.


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