Skip to navigationSkip to content
The abyss.
IS IT A TIDE AD?

NBC’s “equipment failure” was the “wardrobe malfunction” of Super Bowl 52

By Kira Bindrim

Early in the second quarter of an epic Super Bowl face-off between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, everything went black.

For close to 30 seconds, NBC’s Super Bowl broadcast was completely dark—no game, no commercials, only nothingness and silence. An estimated 100 million people witnessed the blackout; it didn’t last so long as to induce panic, but did stay on the screen just long enough to force viewers to contemplate the infinite and confront the emptiness within.

About a half hour after the blackout, an NBC Sports spokesperson offered CNN an explanation: “We had a brief equipment failure that we quickly resolved,” he said. “No game action or commercial time were missed.”

Riiight, the totally normal, completely understandable “equipment failure.” There hasn’t been such a vague excuse for a Super Bowl oops since Justin Timberlake offered up “wardrobe malfunction” after exposing Janet Jackson’s nipple—with tasteful jewelry, of course—during the 2004 halftime show.

NBC is surely hoping to assure viewers that it did not, say, accidentally misplace a $5 million ad spot. But in a night of Super Bowl ads pretending to be anything but advertising, 30 seconds of nothing felt pretty on point.

my favorite commercial was the 30 seconds of black screen sponsored by existential dread and emptiness

— Kira Bindrim (@KiraBind) February 5, 2018