It was a typical Tuesday afternoon on July 1, 1941. The Dodgers and Phillies were getting ready to kick off their match. About 4000 people who weren’t at the game tuned into their televisions sets. And at exactly 2:29 pm, history was made. The first ever legal TV commercial aired.
On May 2, 1941, the FCC finally granted commercial licenses to TV stations that went into effect on July 1, 1941. Although a commercial was aired prior by an experimental station in Boston, in 1930, it was an unauthorized ad that was fined for running the program.
As for the ad,
“America runs on Bulova time,” is what it said, with an image of a watch face and a background of the United States. It was only a mere 10 seconds long. It wasn’t filmed or edited. It was just a graphic put in front of a lens with a live voice over. As opposed to the prices of TV ads in modern times, this Bulova ad only cost $9 : $4 for airtime and $5 for “station charges.”
This small 10 second ad marked the beginning of something bigger, commercialized television.