Rudolph made his television debut on NBC in 1964, when Rankin/Bass produced a stop motion animated TV special of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that became a popular hit in itself. This version was re-broadcast annually many times over the years, even after it was finally released on video and then DVD.
It now airs several times during the Christmas season (on CBS rather than NBC), making it the longest-running TV special in terms of consecutive years. A small bit of trivia regarding the 1964 production, the Roman Numeral Date given at the beginning of the show is in error, missing the second "M", (MCLXIV) which equates to the year 1164. It should have read MCMLXIV to be correct.
In 1976, a sequel to the Rankin-Bass original special was produced, entitled Rudolph's Shiny New Year, and then a third in 1979 entitled Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July. Then in 2001, a fourth in the series was released titled Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys.