new orleans-nbc audio Dec 7, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) passes against the Atlanta Falcons during the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

In the first quarter of Thursday night’s Falcons-Saints games, viewers in New Orleans experienced a bizarre surprise: the voices of Cris Collinsworth and Mike Tirico disappeared from the air, leaving only stadium noise on the NBC broadcast.

According to The Times-Picayune, the outage, which lasted from the 4:43 mark in the first quarter through the 13:05-minute mark in the second quarter, was specific to the New Orleans market. The paper reports that the issue resulted from a manual error at NBC affiliate WDSU.

So what happened? Friday morning (Dec. 8), Joel Vilmenay — the president and general manager of New Orleans NBC affiliate WDSU — offered the following explanation:

“In an effort to address several viewer calls about receiving Spanish language audio, which is transmitted via each viewer’s SAP (second audio program) channel, our operator incorrectly attempted to address this matter internally,” Vilmenay said. “…. We apologize to our viewers who were affected by this error.” 

So basically, some fans received the Spanish-language commentary, and the affiliate “fixed” the problem by making sure no one could hear any commentary.

Interestingly enough, the lack of broadcaster audio seemed to draw positive reviews from viewers. Maybe some fans were glad for a respite from Tirico and Collinsworth, and maybe some others just enjoyed the undisturbed sounds of the game. We’ve gotta say, it is kind of nice to hear the quarterback’s calls at the line of scrimmage and to focus on the officials’ whistles and the din of the crowd.

The full audio returned after 14 minutes of real time, so viewers in New Orleans were able to hear Tirico and Collinsworth share their thoughts as the Saints lost 20-17 to the Falcons.


About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.