The Network That Gave Us The Bird

What is the most famous peacock in the world?  Here’s a hint:  When it first appeared before network television programs you would hear, “The following program is brought to you in living color onÂ…”  If you guessed that line ended with “NBC,” you are of course correct.  That network has used a graphic bird and peacock feathers as its symbol since color TV became available in 1956.

The peacock was not always the sole logo of NBC.  From 1959 to 1976, there was also “the snake logo,” which merged the letters of NBC into one symbol.  It was not until 1979 that it became the primary logo, and it finally became the only logo in 1986.  The concept of a peacock fully spreading its feathers into all colors of the rainbow has remained constant, and for some occasions-the Olympics, Halloween, New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day-the network has displayed specialty peacocks.  In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the peacock took on an “American flag” color theme.  From 1976 to 1979 NBC dispensed with its signature fowl entirely and replaced it with a stylized trapezoidal “N” graphic.  This was never as popular as the plume-spreading bird, and the peacock made a welcome return at the end of the 70s.  The graphic representation of the bird was superimposed over the “N” at first, until the “N” was completely dispensed with following a trademark infringement suit by a PBS station in Nebraska, letting the proud peacock stand alone once again.

peacock feathers

The modern NBC peacock is a white silhouette of the bird in front of six feathers, one for every color of the spectrum.  This is the graphic that presides over everyone’s favorite NBC shows today.  The NBC peacock represents continuity and tradition in an entertainment medium.  As long as there is television, may it continue to show its colorful plumes.