How the Super Bowl Got an X Rating

Comcast customers in Tucson got an eye-popping 30 seconds of pornographic material during the Super Bowl last night. Shortly after Arizona Cardinal Larry Fitzgerald caught a toss from quarterback Kurt Warner to take the lead against Pittsburgh, the Super Bowl feed paused and dissolved into a scene featuring full frontal male nudity from the adult channel Club Jenna.

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Comcast says it is investigating the incident, and its engineers worked through the night to find out what went wrong. According to preliminary reports, standard broadcast/analog customers were the only ones to see the Club Jenna segment -- digital and high-definition subscribers were not affected. It is unclear how many homes were experienced the interruption.

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The feed originated with NBC local affiliate KVOA in Tucson and traveled via a fiber optic line to the Cox Cable Company, which then relayed the feed through a separate line to Comcast. Both KVOA and Cox say the problem lies with Comcast, as the KVOA feed was porn-free when it left the station, and Cox did not receive any complaints from its customers.

Just hours after the big game finished, Comcast customers who caught the Super Bowl surprise on their digital video recorders were posting the incident all over the web. While we're not linking to anyone who posted the event -- hey, this is a family show -- we can say that shots of the event can be found on everything from personal websites to video-sharing sites like Break.com.

So, how did this happen? Was it simply a computer or human error or perhaps a disgruntled employee or hacker? Digital pranks and sabotage have made headlines recently. Just last week, a disgruntled Fannie Mae employee was indicted for trying to crash the company's computer systems, hackers recently posted a zombie alert on a road sign in Texas, and let's not forget December's Twitter hacks allegedly perpetrated by members of the online forum Digital Gangster.

While Comcast hasn't uncovered the cause of the porn malfunction yet, the timing seems somewhat suspicious to me. The Cardinals had just taken the lead with about three minutes left in the fourth quarter. Perhaps with the NFL's coveted trophy within reach, an Arizona fan felt the moment called for some extra celebration. As Cora King of Marana told the Arizona Star, "I just figured it was another commercial...then he did his little dance with everything hanging out." Gives a whole new meaning to "we're No. 1!" doesn't it?

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