Bowling on NBC

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Bowling on NBC is a television program presenting professional ten-pin bowling matches on NBC Sports.

Historical overview[edit]

Championship Bowling[edit]

Prior to the PBA's inception, bowling was broadcast on television sporadically beginning in the early 1950s. NBC began with an early 1950s special telecast entitled Championship Bowling.[1]

Jackpot Bowling[edit]

Jackpot Bowling (also known as Phillies Jackpot Bowling[2] and Jackpot Bowling Starring Milton Berle) was a professional bowling show on NBC from January 9, 1959 to June 24, 1960 and again from September 19, 1960 to March 13, 1961.[3]

Jackpot Bowling was the first national TV bowling show since Bowling Headliners. The show aired on Fridays at 10:30 PM following the Cavalcade of Sports Friday Night Fight.

Leo Durocher was the show's first host, but bowed out after only two shows and was replaced by Mel Allen.[3] Allen's lack of bowling knowledge made him an unpopular host, however.[4][5] On April 10, 1959 Bud Palmer became the show's third host.[6]

Allen returned in October 1959 and remained with the show until April 1960, after which Palmer returned and hosted through June.

The show was put on a brief hiatus after the June 24 episode. When it returned on September 19, 1960, a retooled version hit the airwaves; the series not only moved to Monday nights at 10:30, but Bayuk Cigars replaced Phillies Cigars as sponsor, the Hollywood Legion Lanes replaced Wayne, New Jersey's T-Bowl as the show's venue, and Milton Berle took over as host.[7]


The series covered several professional bowling events throughout its run that were not broadcast as part of the Pro Bowlers Tour on ABC. From 1984-1991, it had its own series called The PBA Fall Tour. Jay Randolph & Earl Anthony were the commentators. Not like ABC's coverage, it was NBC that introduced uninterrupted coverage of the championship match.

From 1988-1990, bowling had its own version of the Skins Game called The Bowling Shootout. Four bowlers (three pros and an amateur in the 1989 & 1990) competed. Each frame had a designated value & to win, you must be the only bowler to strike, spare or have most pin count to claim the prize. Two tie meant all tie, but all players bowled regardless (where there was a game within a game). If it was still tied after the 10th frame, a one ball roll-off happened. The bowler with the most money won the Shootout. Plus, the bowler who threw the most strikes (the game within a game) won a boat (Marshall Holman) won all three boats. Brian Voss was the only bowler to win a frame with a spare.

  • 1988: Muskegon, Michigan (Mark Roth/Marshall Holman)
  • 1989: Reno, Nevada (Mark Roth/Marshall Holman)
  • 1990: Atlantic City, New Jersey (Brian Voss/Marshall Holman)

See also[edit]