The common phrase among NFL fans of wanting to make it home “before Carrie” comes on might be in jeopardy now that Carrie Underwood and NBCUniversal Media are facing a copyright lawsuit by songwriter Heidi Merill. Merrill claims she pitched her song “Game On” to Underwood’s producer, Mark Bright, in 2017 at a conference, where he suggested she should submit the song to his office. After submitting the song, his office responded to her with an email telling her that they were “going to pass” on the song. Meanwhile, Sunday Night Football switched from Underwood’s “Oh Sunday Night” to “Game On” and has since featured the song on every NBC Sunday Night Football Broadcast.
Sunday Night Football, which has aired on NBC since 2006, is one of the most-watched television programs in the United States, and is “often the single highest-rated broadcast on television during the weeks which it airs.” The complaint states that Merill created the song in 2016 and uploaded it to YouTube in 2017, one year prior to it initially airing on NBC.
“The infringing song is substantially — even strikingly — similar, if not identical, to the plaintiffs’ work not only in title but in many other ways, including in tempo, meter, time signature, rhythmic contours and patterns, melodic contours and patterns, hooks (including the shared key phrase of the chorus, “Game On”), note progression and use, and chord progression . . . ,” Merrill stated in her complaint.
Underwood has performed various introduction songs for the NFL’s signature prime time game since 2013, including “Game On,” “Oh Sunday Night,” and “Waitin’ All Day for Sunday Night.” The lawsuit, which was jointly filed by Merrill’s co-writers, also notably includes the National Football League as a co-defendant in addition to Underwood, Bright, and NBC.
The theme song, which is shown before every Sunday Night Football telecast with an introduction video that includes famous NFL players and Carrie Underwood, has become popular among NFL football fans as it represents the beginning of what is often the most important game of the week during the regular season.