Gatorade. Budweiser. Visa. These are just a few of the countless sponsors of the National Football League. Every week, advertisements dominate our screens as we intently tune in to watch our favorite teams. During the five month long season, even church gets put on the back burner so we can spend more time watching football.
As the years have gone by, the presence of advertising has become more and more apparent both during the games and between plays. Commentators will read a 20 second Papa Johns commercial script after showing the “Papa Johns Player of the Game”. Dozens of times every game, a commentator will say something along the lines of, “This coaches challenge is brought to you by State Farm.” Now advertisements are as much a part of the game as actual gameplay. In fact, in a study done by the Wall Street Journal, it was found that we are exposed to an average of more than 100 commercials every game. What’s more shocking is the mere 11 minutes of actual gameplay that an NFL game averages. That’s right. 11 minutes. The rest of an NFL game is full of players standing around, players peeling themselves off the grass, coaches closely looking at the playbook, shots of the commentators, etc. Furthermore, the study found there to be, on average, 17 minutes of replays. That’s nearly 50% more time than live gameplay!
This should be broken down a little more to fully understand what exactly is going on. Lets say the average commercial is 15 seconds long (many can be 30 seconds, but we’ll use 15 for this calculation). If we see an average of 100 commercials per game, and each commercial is 15 seconds long, we would watch, on average, 25 minutes worth of commercials every game. During an average football game, we spend twice as much time watching commercials than we do watching actual gameplay. This calculation also neglects any commercials over 15 seconds long.
There is a group of people who believe that in the near future, the major sports in America will have advertising on the jerseys of the athletes, similar to how soccer players have it now. The difference between soccer and the 4 major American sports is the amount of time available to show ads during a game. During a soccer game, there are two 45-minute halves with no commercial breaks. This forces companies to sponsor teams and for the field to be lined by LED walls perpetually showing ads. The major American sports are different. They include plenty of commercial breaks to allow advertising to be shown in conjunction with gameplay. The NFL is already the most profitable professional sports league in the world. Why do they devote so much time to advertising? The answer is easy: money talks. Because of this staple of American culture, football Sunday is now advertising Sunday, and we all tune in.