Fourteen years ago, a scandal erupted at the Super Bowl.
But it occurred during halftime.
Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson had notoriously perpetrated “Nipplegate,” and now NBC is ensuring that it won’t happen again.
In Super Bowl XXXVIII, the New England Patriots defeated the Carolina Panthers on a last-second field goal in a thrilling game, but more people remember the shocking halftime show.
Timberlake “accidentally” exposed Jackson’s already barely covered breast at the end of their routine.
As a result, NBC will broadcast Timberlake’s Super Bowl LII halftime show this year with a five-second delay.
From The Sporting News:
When singer Justin Timberlake takes the stage Sunday for the Super Bowl 52 halftime show, NBC Sports won’t be showing you his performance live from U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Instead, the network will take the wise precaution of televising the singer on a five-second tape delay. Timberlake has nobody to blame but himself and ex-dance partner Janet Jackson for that.
Nearly 14 years ago, Timberlake tore open Jackson’s blouse at the end of the Super Bowl 38 halftime show — exposing her right breast to nearly 150 million TV viewers. The infamous “wardrobe malfunction” was only visible for a split-second, but all hell broke loose around the league and CBS. The fallout continues to this day.
The NFL, CBS and halftime producer MTV profusely apologized. Jackson and Timberlake claimed it was an accident. Meanwhile, outraged TV viewers flooded authorities with hundreds of thousands of complaints. Halftime show sponsor AOL demanded a refund. A furious NFL banned MTV from producing another Super Bowl halftime show. The FCC fined CBS a whopping $550,000, launching a decade-long legal battle. The “boob heard around the world” ignited a rancorous debate over indecency in broadcasting.
There won’t be another “Nipplegate” if the NFL and its TV partners can help it. Ever since that disastrous night of Feb. 1, 2004, the league has taken a firmer hand in policing shows. The NFL still gets superstar performers like Lady Gaga (last February) and Beyonce and Bruno Mars (two years ago), but they are told in no uncertain terms that the league wants them to shut up and sing.
From a TV standpoint, all Super Bowl broadcasters now employ tape delays to avoid similar disasters as 2004. NBC Sports spokesman Chris McCloskey called the network’s five-second tape delay for Sunday’s halftime a “common procedure.” Fox Sports likewise used a five-second tape delay for both its Super Bowl 51 halftime and pregame shows, according to spokesman Eddie Motl.
Still, you never say never when it comes to sports TV. Any trust factor between sports TV networks and Hollywood entertainers was lost after that Jackson-Timberlake disaster.
NBC Sports chairman Mark Lazarus has been briefed on Timberlake’s planned set list for Sunday night and isn’t expecting problems.
During a recent interview, Timberlake said he assured the NFL that there would be no sequel to Nipplegate.
“It’s just one of those things where you go, like, ‘Yeah, what do you want me to say? We’re not going to do that again!’” Timberlake told Beat 1 Radio’s Zane Lowe.
After the fallout from Nipplegate, Timberlake would have to be a fool to attempt something so outlandish, but superstars in the music industry are always looking to push the envelope.
There’s no telling what could happen.