Football Games and Commercials

Ken Wais 2/11/16

In another essay, Iíve looked at how one of my few enjoyable network TV programs, Jeopardy was really just a vehicle for delivering commercials.  Now, I want to analyze a claim I was told by a friend in 2012 about NFL football broadcasts.  The claim was the actual game time amounted to about 11 minutes, and the remaining 49 minutes were composed mostly of commercials, a few incidental camera shots of the team sidelines, the fans and close-ups of the principals, like coaches, and players.  I googled this and sure enough, what she had told me was true.  But a Google search that yields an answer that matches my friend's comment doesn't prove anything, I thought.  There didn't seem to be any studies with statistical analysis to show this result. At that time, all I found were different threads in discussions that alleged this.  Well, of course, I had to do my own test study.  What follows are the results of this study.  First of all, let me give you the outcome: yes, yes and yes again, it's absolutely true, about 11 minutes of actual game time is broadcasted out of the almost 3 hours of transmission.  When you add in the commercials, half-time period, post commercial add-on advertising, etc. the time balloons to about 3 hours.

 

Below is the tabulation I performed.  The game is divided in 25 periods.  This corresponds to when I started my timer for commercials.  So, there were 25 commercial periods during the entire game.  The one extra period would be the ending part of the game, so there are 24 periods which can be divided into roughly 4 quarters of 6 minutes.

Time Periods

Sum of TIME IN MINUTES

1

1.816666667

2

1.8

3

2.433333333

4

1.833333333

5

1.783333333

6

1.566666667

7

2.433333333

8

1.766666667

9

1.816666667

10

1.783333333

11

1.933333333

12

2.333333333

13

2.633333333

14

1.733333333

15

2.866666667

16

1.783333333

17

1.766666667

18

1.766666667

19

1.833333333

20

1.766666667

21

1.8

22

1.8

23

1.783333333

24

2.1

25

1.75

Grand Total

48.68333333

 

I used a cell phone timer to count 25 periods of commercials during this 60 minute football game. The time is shown on table above as Sum of TIME IN MINUTES. I divided the time in seconds from my cell phone count by 60 to get the time in minutes.I did not round the minute count.It is better for a continuous function as plotted below to have a smooth number set and not a chunky group of rounded values.

It is clear that when measured this way, there is only an actual viewer time of 11 minutes in this game.

What is much more interesting is the distribution of commercial time. Notice how the commercial time peaks during four quarter periods. Just around half-time, the avaricious advertisers really lay it on.  It is hard to imagine we endured nearly 3 minutes of commercials during this period.  During the half-time period approximately periods 13 to 16, we are bombarded with commercials.  It would be relatively easy to take this source data along with maybe 10 other tabulations performed like the one above, run it through a data mining module in Excel, and perhaps derive some strong statistical predictions about why the commercial times peak at certain points in footballs games.  But, that isnít what interests me.  I am willing to accept that this is just the result of companies bidding for commercial time and these peaks are the results. There is no conspiracy here.  But, when it comes to the synchronization of commercials on different channels, oh man!--that is planned, conspired and executed in lockstep detail by the advertisers.

San Francisco Vs Green Bay Chart

Summary Remarks

The obvious conclusion is the viewer is blasted with an overwhelming amount of commercial time during football games.  Moreover, the viewer canít escape this by switching to another game, since advertisers synchronize their commercials.  The question to be asked is also glaring: Why the hell watch football games when they are nothing but commercial festivals?  The answer is not obvious.  I watch them with a lot of muting of the sound during commercials and creative multi-tasking activities like working on an article like this, listening to my music, talking to friends and family on my cell phone.  These are just measures to defeat the commercial attack of advertisers, but even with this you are bound to occasionally watch or see the text while muted, and those sonabitches know this.  Which means you do get the messages passed to your mind if only partially.  So, why watch right?  The very unscientific conclusion Iíve come to is that competitive games are very likely a part of the human genetic structure.  We are probably born ready to engage in competition and a game is a primal way to do this.  Our societies the world over have incorporated this genetic inclination into their cultures.  I doubt if any anthropologist can find a human society in the world that has no form of game play.  In light of this, I believe we are sort of genetically predisposed to be inclined to watch these games, though we know they are only vehicles for advertisements.  I mean come on, it is common knowledge to TV viewers in America that a football game is rife with commercials.  It may not be clear to younger viewers how much the time interval has grown over the years, and IT DEFINITELY HAS.  But, returning to the point, we watch because we like games, to put it simply.  We may be getting brainwashed, indoctrinated, distracted from important issues facing our society (like economic collapse, Big Brother intrusion on our privacy, etc), love it or hate it, we like to see games.  And yes those fuckers (my invectives are getting much more profane arenít they?) know that too!

Note: I didnít make this study as a rigorous statistical analysis intended for publication in a scholarly journal, so I didnít bother to note the date of the game (it was in 2012 season as I remember).  The teams were San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers.  Not that it matters, but I think S.F. won.