America’s first commercial TV station went on the air 75 years ago today. WNBC, then known as WNBT, signed on at 1 p.m. On its first day, it also broadcast its first commercial. An ad for Bulova. The watchmaker paid $9 for the spot.
WNBT was to go on the air at the same time as WCBW (now WCBS), so no station could claim to exclusively be “first.” But WCBW didn’t manage to sign on until an hour after WNBT.
WNBT originally broadcast on channel 1. After playing the national anthem, and a schedule of programming, the Bulvoa commercial ran, followed by the Brooklyn Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies game.