It was the 1960s, the decade of JFK, the Beatles, the Vietnam war and the Summer of Love. America was being split apart by politics and young people were starting to realize that the government did not have their best interest at heart. Television had never been more important than in this decade, and for the first time, the medium had started to surpass newspapers as the primary news source. The culture was changing, although it would take a while for scripted television to catch on. Smothers Brothers and Laugh–In tried to talk about these things but TV executives were more comfortable ignoring reality with light-hearted fare like The Beverly Hillbillies and Gilligan‘s Island.
- The Andy Griffith Show premieres on CBS. Lasts until 1968.
- The Flintstones premieres on ABC.
- The Kennedy-Nixon debates are broadcasted.
- Wide World of Sports premieres on ABC. Lasts until 2006.
- The Dick Van Dyke Show premieres on CBS. Lasts until 1968.
- First live coverage of a presidential press conference airs with President Kennedy.
- Mister Ed makes his television debut.
- The Avengers premieres on ITV. Lasts until 1969.
- The Mike Douglas Show premieres in syndication. Lasts until 1981.
- Walter Cronkite joins the CBS Evening News.
- Johnny Carson takes over The Tonight Show and lasts until 1992.
- Space flight of John Glenn orbiting the earth airs.
- The Jetsons premieres on ABC. Only lasts a season but is revived in the eighties due to its popularity in reruns.
- The Beverly Hillbillies premieres on CBS.
- Match Game premieres on NBC.
- Doctor Who premieres on BBC.
- The Fugitive premieres on ABC. Lasts until 1967.
- Let‘s Make a Deal premieres on NBC with host Monty Hall.
- Instant Replay is used for the first time during a college football broadcast.
- Astro Boy is Japan’s first anime television series.
- Mister Rogers‘ Neighborhood premieres on CBC.
- Jeopardy! premieres on NBC with host Art Fleming.
- Peyton Place premieres on ABC.
- Spy drama The Man from U.N.C.L.E. premieres on NBC.
- The Munsters premieres on CBS.
- Andy Griffith spin-off Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. premieres on CBS.
- Gilligan‘s Island premieres on CBS.
- Bewitched premieres on ABC. Lasts until 1972.
- The Beatles appear on The Ed Sullivan Show for the first time.
- The Addams Family premieres on ABC.
- Jonny Quest makes his television debut.
- BBC2 is launched, while BBC is renamed BBC1.
- Hogan‘s Heroes premieres on CBS.
- I Dream of Genie premieres on NBC.
- Green Acres premieres on CBS.
- Lost in Space premieres on CBS.
- Get Smart premieres on NBC.
- I Spy premieres on NBC.
- A Charlie Brown Christmas on CBS is the first Peanuts TV special.
- Thunderbirds premieres on ITV.
- Star Trek premieres on NBC.
- That Girl premieres on ABC at a time when shows about young single women were rare.
- Adam West debuts as Batman.
- Spy drama Mission: Impossible premieres on CBS.
- Hollywood Squares premieres on NBC.
- The Yule Log Christmas special premieres on WPIX in New York City.
- The Monkees premieres on NBC.
- Christian news program The 700 Club debuts in syndication.
- The Super Bowl is televised for the first time on both NBC and CBS.
- The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour premieres on CBS.
- The Carol Burnett Show premieres on CBS. Lasts until 1978.
- Phil Donahue makes his talk show debut. Lasts until 1996.
- The finale of ABC’s The Fugitive is one of the most-watched programs of the decade.
- The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour airs on BBC1.
- Ironside premieres on NBC.
- Mannix premieres on CBS.
- The Flying Nun premieres on ABC.
- George of the Jungle premieres on ABC.
- Variety show Rowan & Martin‘s Laugh–In premieres on NBC.
- 60 Minutes premieres on CBS.
- Hawaii Five–O premieres on CBS.
- Dick Cavett makes his talk show debut on ABC in the daytime.
- Adam–12 premieres on NBC.
- The Mod Squad premieres on ABC.
- Monty Python‘s Flying Circus premieres on BBC.
- Scooby-Doo makes his television debut in Scooby–Doo, Where Are You! on CBS.
- The Brady Bunch premieres on ABC.
- Sesame Street premieres on PBS.
- Hee Haw premieres on CBS. Lasts until 1992 in syndication.
- Marcus Welby, M.D. premieres on ABC.
- Love, American Style premieres on ABC.
- Apollo 11 with the First Humans to Land on the Moon is watched by 600 million people on all networks.