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WSJ: Typical NFL game has only 11 minutes of actual football

Jan 15, 2010, 7:45 PM EDT

Of course anyone with TiVo already knows this; ever watch an NFL game you’ve recorded, and discovered that almost all of your time is spent fast-forwarding? That’s because — as the Wall Street Journal pointed out today with release of a study in their online edition — there is apparently only 11 minutes of actual football action contained in a typical three-hour NFL broadcast (even less if you’re a Rams fan). They added up all the time from the hike of the ball until the play is whistled dead, and got 11 minutes.
That snickering you hear in the background is from soccer and rugby fans.

So what do the networks do with the other 174 minutes in a typical broadcast? Not surprisingly, commercials take up about an hour. As many as 75 minutes, or about 60% of the total air time, excluding commercials, is spent on shots of players huddling, standing at the line of scrimmage or just generally milling about between snaps. In the four broadcasts The Journal studied, injured players got six more seconds of camera time than celebrating players. While the network announcers showed up on screen for just 30 seconds, shots of the head coaches and referees took up about 7% of the average show.

You may argue that baseball has even more standing-around time, but at least in that sport you’re usually still involved in the strategy of the game. In basketball there’s plenty of standing around, but technically you’re still playing; it’s just that you’re a Detroit Piston, and not much movement is required. Of all the team sports, football is unique in that it doesn’t take much movement at all to accomplish your goals. Case in point.
But the WSJ didn’t factor in time for:

* Dancing, preening, pointing to the sky over the smallest of achievements.

* Watching a punt roll slowly to a stop at the 15-yard-line.

* Head-scratching over Cris Collinsworth anecdotes.

* Bud Adams giving the finger.

* Erin Andrews oogling.

* Hochuli gun show.

11 minutes of action [Wall Street Journal]

  1. Jim - Jan 16, 2010 at 1:12 AM

    Sadly, I’m either checking the fridge or going to the bathroom during those 11 minutes.

  2. norm - Jan 18, 2010 at 12:18 PM

    This study posits that only action after the snap counts and that the setting of offensive and defensive lines are not part of the actual game. Even time outs are part of the strategy of the game. This is like saying that cooking a chinese dish takes 6 minutes forgetting any of the preparation time that is required prior to tossing the ingedients into the wok. How about newscasts, does the only thing that counts is the time Diane Sawyer actually reads the news? I guess this means that the war in Iraq could be reduced to a couple months? This is so silly. As silly as me being provoked into a response by my neighbor. Have a good year everybody and for other Steeler fans…wait til next year for the alternating Super Bowl year.

  3. Soccer - Jan 24, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    It’s not really a game is it. Would it exist if TV adverts didn’t, nope !
    Would they play rugby ? Nope
    Has it got a world cup watched by billions ? Nope
    Look at the game from neutral eyes and you will see it’s a proper waste of time and effort. Norm defends the game by saying the setup is part of the game, come on. So what is it in Rugby, when they take all the girlie protection off before they play, is that what you mean.
    Baseball, NHL & American football are not sports. Never have been, never will be. If they were the world would play them. The Football league (real football) invented 1874 Birmingham UK.
    What sports have you given the world, Skateboarding ?
    11 Minutes. You could not make it up.

  4. Baseball - Jan 24, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    Everyone knows that soccer is for people who don’t have the hand-eye coordination for baseball and aren’t tough enough to play football. If you knew what the Olympics were, you would realize that hockey is a sport (or is America the only country that plays hockey in the Olympics)? And if you ever heard of the World Baseball Classic, you would know that many countries play baseball. And football was being played long before TV advertisements were so popular.

  5. John - Jan 24, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    Don’t talk **** on skateboarding if you don’t know anything about it. It takes skill to skateboard. The majority of people can’t even ride a skateboard for more then a block. Also how can you say that Baseball, NHL (I am guessing you mean hockey,) and American Football are not sports? Come on man, do you even know anything about those sports? Plus the world does play all those sports. They’re not as big as football around the world but they still play them. Just watch an NHL game you’ll notice that there are people from all around the world playing. The world also plays Baseball. Just look at Japan, it’s huge there. And American football is played elsewhere other then America. There is a European American Football league and Canadian American Football league. You need more reasoning behind your argument other then it’s girlie because they use pads and it hasn’t been around for as long as football. Not everyone can play professional Baseball, hockey, and American football. It takes skill, commitment, and the know how. The same would go for rugby and football.
    And the same would go for skateboarding. Not just anyone could skateboard. I’ve seen a lot of people try to skateboard and fail miserably. You need a good source of balance and agility, you need to be in shape and not overweight, you have to understand how and why a skateboard moves the certain way it does, and you also need a high pain tolerance. It takes talent to skateboard.

  6. trampoline safety - Jan 30, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    I don’t sometimes comment on blog posts but I needed to drop by and tell you thanks for writing this, I absolutely agree and with some luck people will understand where you are comin from.