Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Doing The Math

by Dick Mac

Last night I tuned-in to ESPN to watch Monday Night Football.

Historically, I've enjoyed watching the NFL on television, because the game is designed for television. In the mid-1960s, Pete Rozelle and Roone Arledge re-engineered the NFL game to more easily lend itself to broadcast revenue. It was a brilliant move, and from it came the perfectly packaged televised sporting events.

In recent years, the contracts between the NFL and broadcast outlets have been modified, as well they should, to accommodate redistribution of the huge profits being made.

Unfortunately, nobody like Pete Rozelle and/or Roone Arledge has been involved in these modern day efforts, so the changes have been engineered by accountants and lawyers, instead of television producers and sportsmen.

What we have today barely resembles the NFL I enjoyed so much the past forty-odd years. There's just not enough football in the broadcast.

Let's count some beans:

The average broadcast of an NFL game is scheduled for three hours.

An NFL game consists of four fifteen-minute quarters: one hour.

There is a short break at the end of each quarter, for the teams to change sides.

Half-time lasts about twenty minutes or so.

Approximately thirty minutes is required for intervals, during which time, advertising and promotions are proffered.

This leaves an additional ninety minutes, a full fifty percent more than the actual time of the game, for advertising and promotion.

One hour of football is nestled in an additional two hours of other stuff.

Last night, I explained it this way:

Fifteen airings of the same truck ad, fifteen airings of the same beer ad, fifteen airings of the same car ad, fifteen airings of the same pizza ad, fifteen airings of various armed forces ads, and fifteen promos for some insipid new sitcom EVERY HOUR for three hours. Oh, and then a little bit of a sporting event.

My fave is this combo: three to five ads, back to the game, announcer does audio promo for television show, team kicks-off the ball for a fair catch, announcer does another promo for the same upcoming show, three to five ads, then the first play of the series. In five minutes there has been one completed play (for a fair catch) and the start of a play from scrimmage.
Although those paragraphs were written with tongue firmly planted in cheek, they are not much of an exaggeration.

In order to watch an NFL game, you must watch at least two hours of other stuff.

In my estimation, that is not watching a football game, that is watching television advertising with some football interspersed through it.

Why people continue to tune-in is beyond my ability to reason.

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