The length of the game

October 29, 2015





Sports Editor | mvv002@latech.edu


Football is king in the landscape of American sports broadcasting. Television companies pay millions for the rights to broadcast games.


Football on TV is a huge money maker. Networks build their schedules and create content based on what games they can show depending on what rights they have won in million-dollar bidding wars.


Football used to control television. Channels would plan how their schedules look based on when certain games kicked off. Now though, it’s the other way around as football has become controlled by television.


ESPN has a three and a half hour window for all football games to air on its networks, which is the average length of a football broadcast. Of those three and a half hours, there are only about 11-15 minutes of actual action.


The rest is filled with replays, analysis and, of course, commercials.


When Ole Miss visited Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama, the game aired in prime time and kicked off at 9:15 p.m. ET on Saturday night.


The game ended at 1:29 a.m. ET on Sunday morning. Why did the game run so long? The length of games may be increasing for an assortment of reasons. The most obvious is advertisements.


Adverts have gradually become as scripted and glamorous as some lower budget movies. Some Super Bowl ads, on the other hand, may have as large a budget as this past summer’s biggest blockbusters.


The most annoying sequence of commercial breaks has to be coming out of a three minute commercial break, watching a kickoff that usually ends in a touchback, then going back to another three minute commercial break.


Networks airing football will take any chance they get to go to a commercial break to maximize ad revenues.


Another possible reason could have something to do with the evolution of the spread offense.


More scores, more plays and more incomplete passes mean more commercial breaks and more time on the clock when it doesn’t run after every play.


Whatever the reason, it doesn’t look like this will change any time soon. Money makes the sports world go `round.


Matt Valcho is a junior journalism major from Benton who serves as sports editor for The Tech Talk.


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