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NFL on DuMont

The NFL on DuMont
Created by DuMont Sports
Starring See announcers section below
Country of origin 23x15px United States
No. of seasons 4
Running time 180 minutes or until game ends
Original channel DuMont
Original release 1951 – 1955

The NFL on DuMont was an American television program that broadcast National Football League games on the now defunct DuMont Television Network.[1] The program ran from 1951 to 1955.


DuMont's NFL coverage consisted of contracts the network signed with individual NFL teams. Only for the NFL Championship Game did the network actually sign a contract with the league. Some teams did not have deals with DuMont; instead selling television rights to local stations, independent producers, or breweries who were major sponsors and who also packaged the telecasts.


Locally and regionally televised games were broadcast as early as 1939, but on December 23, 1951,[2] DuMont televised the first ever live, coast-to-coast professional football game, the NFL Championship Game between the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns. DuMont paid $75,000 for the rights to broadcast the game.[3]

In 1952,[4] DuMont only aired New York Giants games before moving to a more national scope the following season.


During the 1953[5][6] and 1954 seasons,[7] DuMont broadcast Saturday night NFL games. It was the first time that National Football League games were televised live, coast-to-coast, in prime time, for the entire season. This predated Monday Night Football on ABC by 17 years.[8] Several of the games in 1953 and 1954 originated in New York (Giants), Pittsburgh (Steelers), or Washington (Redskins). (All three of these cities had DuMont O&Os.)[9]

In 1953, DuMont televised a Thanksgiving NFL game between the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers.

DuMont proved to be a less than ideal choice for a national broadcaster. The network had only eighteen primary affiliates in 1954, dwarfed by the 120 available to NBC (although a number of stations that had DuMont "secondary" affiliations did carry some NFL games, mainly on Sunday afternoons). Coverage of Canadian football's "Big Four" was more readily available on NBC than NFL games were in most markets on DuMont.[10]


In January 1955, DuMont obtained rights from the Los Angeles Newspaper Charities to cover the Pro Bowl only one week before the game date. As they had trouble lining up affiliates to cover the game on such short notice, the telecast was cancelled.

By 1955,[11] the DuMont network was beginning to crumble. For instance, in 1955, NBC replaced DuMont as the network for the NFL Championship Game, paying a rights fee of $100,000.[12] ABC acquired the rights to the Thanksgiving game. Meanwhile, most teams (sans the Giants, Eagles and Steelers, who received regionalized coverage from DuMont) were left to fend for themselves in terms of TV coverage.

DuMont ceased most entertainment programs (and a nightly newscast) in early April 1955. DuMont still broadcast some sports events (a Monday-night boxing show and the 1955 NFL season) until August 1956,[13] when the network as a whole shut down for good.


DuMont normally used a single announcer for its telecasts, a common practice then but a departure from modern practice where a play-by-play announcer is paired with a color commentator. Several of DuMont's championship game broadcasts did have color commentators.

NFL Championship Game commentators

Season Play-by-play Color commentator(s)
1951 Harry Wismer Earl Gillespie
1952 Harry Wismer
1953 Harry Wismer Red Grange
1954 By Saam (first half) and Chuck Thompson (second half)

Status of broadcasts today

No copies of any of the DuMont NFL broadcasts are known to survive today. The games were broadcast live and were probably not recorded except on kinescope for later viewing by the few DuMont affiliates and stations in the west.


External links