Hundreds of millions of people watch the Super Bowl each year, so viewers will notice when there’s a mistake in the broadcast. The pressure is palpable for everyone involved in making this enormous media event run smoothly, but even the Super Bowl doesn’t have a spotless track record.
There have been a variety of broadcasting errors involving the game, ranging from humorous to unfortunate to downright shocking. One can only imagine how this year’s gameday will turn out, so as fans wait, here’s a list of the biggest broadcasting mistakes made during the Super Bowl.
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10. Terry Bradshaw mispronounces ‘Puma’
This is one of the more lighthearted entries on this list. Analyst Terry Bradshaw made some pregame commentary before Super Bowl LVII.
As he told the story of an endorsement deal he made with Puma, the former quarterback fumbled with his pronunciation of the company’s name. This flub led to some laughs from his fellow commentators, who quickly corrected Bradshaw.
9. The Nielsen ratings miscount
Thankfully, this incident didn’t occur during the Super Bowl at all. What happened was that Nielsen miscounted the number of viewers who watched Super Bowl LVII in 2023.
According to Fox Sports, the total number of viewers of the broadcast was 115.1 million, as opposed to the 113 million initially reported by Nielsen, making it the most-watched Super Bowl in history.
8. The camera loses Jimmy Garoppolo
At the start of Super Bowl LVIII, one cameraperson chased 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo as the latter ran onto the field. Unfortunately, the crewmember tripped and fell while filming him, with Garoppolo not knowing he had left the former behind.
The quarterback thus ran to the sidelines and left the cameraperson in the dust, making for a truly memorable fumble before the game even began.
7. Bruce Springsteen’s crotch shot
Don’t worry, it’s not what it sounds like. At one point during his performance at the Super Bowl XLIII Halftime Show, singer Bruce Springsteen slid on his knees across the stage, hitting one of the TV cameras filming him.
This accident resulted in America meeting the Boss halfway by getting a close-up shot of his crotch. The Halftime Show is no stranger to showing too much to audiences, but thankfully, Springsteen was able to walk away from this without crossing any lines.
6. CBS shares the wrong date
Last year, CBS made the unfortunate mistake of getting the date of Super Bowl LVII wrong during its live broadcast of the Chiefs-Bengals game. During said broadcast, a caption on the screen stated that the Super Bowl would air on February 29 instead of February 12.
Not only was this date incorrect. February 29 didn’t even exist in 2023 since it wasn’t a Leap Year. Though this error didn’t occur during the big game, it was still a noticeable blunder in the Super Bowl’s marketing campaign.
5. NBC’s black screen
NBC’s presentation of Super Bowl LII confused countless viewers when it showed a black screen for about 30 seconds. People may have thought their TVs were broken or that they had accidentally turned them off.
However, according to NBC Sports, this “blackout” resulted from a “brief equipment failure” on their end that was swiftly remedied. Fortunately, audiences didn’t miss any game time or planned commercials due to this error.
4. Mistaking Mickey Guyton for Jhené Aiko
At Super Bowl LVI, singer Jhené Aiko was brought on to sing The Star-Spangled Banner following Mickey Guyton’s rendition of America the Beautiful. However, when the camera was aimed at Guyton, the caption misidentified her as Aiko.
Even though the camera panned over to Aiko, the fact that both singers were people of color made this mistake look even worse to audiences, who were quick to voice their outrage on social media.
3. International streaming failure
Football fans outside the U.S. were outraged when technical glitches left them unable to see certain moments while streaming the Super Bowl in 2020. According to The Hollywood Reporter, this drove one Australian fan, Sietel Singh Gill, to lead a class-action lawsuit against the NFL on behalf of 300,000 to 700,000 people across 181 countries.
Though the NFL offered a $10 refund to those who complained, each person affected by the glitches reportedly paid the equivalent of $200 to stream the game. The lawsuit was eventually settled in 2023.
2. The Superdome blackout
The timing for this one couldn’t be worse. Following Beyoncé’s stellar performance in the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show, the New Orleans Superdome suffered a partial blackout during the third quarter of the game.
Resulting from an error in the stadium’s electrical system, this blackout left a portion of the Superdome in darkness and put the big game on hold for over half an hour until the lights came back on.
1. The wardrobe malfunction
Millions of viewers were shocked when Justin Timberlake accidentally revealed Janet Jackson’s breast while performing together at Super Bowl XXXVIII. Many people theorized that the exposure of Jackson’s breast was an intentional publicity stunt, but those involved in the incident have since debunked the accusations.
However, this accident led to the Federal Communications Commission cracking down on televised content it deemed “indecent” and too sexually explicit. Jackson also suffered a disproportionate amount of backlash that resulted in her being blacklisted in the media industry for a number of years.