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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. When die-hard fans plant themselves in front of the screen for hours on game days, they end up watching a surprisingly small amount of actual football.

3, 2, 1, Commercials!

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 three 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's 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 Fortune, more than 111 million people tuned in to the 2017 Super Bowl.

What Happens During a Football Broadcast?

Written by Curiosity Staff September 6, 2016