The Average NFL Game Has Only 11 Minutes Of Action

Ever watched a football game on TV and wondered they didn't just play already? Been there. And while die-hard fans will plant themselves in front of the TV for hours on game days, they're watching a surprisingly small amount of actual football. During the average NFL game, the ball is only in play for about 11 minutes a game. According to a study of football broadcasts, each play is about 4 seconds long even though a telecast lasts around 3 hours.

Game Play

Anyone who has ever tuned into an NFL broadcast knows that plenty of air time is spent showing players huddling, coaches yelling, and fans cheering. That's because while the on-field action can be exciting, it's usually short-lived. In fact, according to a 2010 Wall Street Journal study of four football broadcasts, the ball was only in play for an average of 10 minutes and 43 seconds — approximately 4 seconds per play — even though an NFL telecast lasts about 3 hours. "The Journal broke down every frame of the broadcasts for four games on four networks on one weekend in late December," according to the article that elaborated on the study. "Each shot in every broadcast was timed and logged in one of 22 categories."

What In A Broadcast?

So what's happening for the rest of the broadcast? Commercials, for one. They demand about an hour of airtime. Replays take about 17 minutes, footage of cheerleaders command about 3 seconds, and shots of players standing around make up an average of 67 minutes, according to WSJ. Despite this minimal action, football viewership is in the millions. According to the LA Times, more than 100 million people are expected to tune-in to the 2017 Super Bowl.

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Written by Curiosity Staff September 6, 2016