We did in fact see a notable decrease during week one, anywhere between five and 15 minutes fewer commercials in most games

Touchdown – commercial – extra point – commercial – kickoff – commercial.

Last year, we ran the numbers and on average, each NFL game had around 55-65 minutes of commercials. This wasn’t an increase from previous years, but the perception was that there were far more ads, a problem for the NFL. We reported that the reasons for this perception are likely twofold:

  • Now that people use services like Netflix for entertainment, commercials are less tolerable during normal television broadcasts.
  • There wasn’t much variety, with a few commercials dominating airtime during NFL games.

There had been talk throughout the off-season that the NFL was planning on decreasing the number of ads per game, so we wanted to see if this was actually true during the opening weekend games.

Recording the time that ads ran during each game this last weekend, we did in fact see a notable decrease during week one, anywhere between five and 15 minutes fewer commercials in most games, enough of a decrease for us to believe this was intentional and not just coincidence.

Overall the average fell to just about 50 minutes of advertising slots, with some games having between 45 and 47 minutes of commercials. The Raiders-Titans game saw approximately 44 minutes of ads, the lowest of the weekend, likely due to several long drives eating up large percentages of the game’s clock.

The most commercials of any broadcast was Sunday Night Football’s Giants-Cowboys game, which saw approximately 55 minutes of commercials, still on the lower end of last year’s numbers. The Sunday Night games also tend to fetch the largest advertising budgets, with the week’s best ratings, so it does make sense that NBC would capitalize on this. What we’re curious about is with decreases on other networks, if NBC will follow, or if due to the ratings of SNF remaining strong, they won’t be forced to react.

We will continue monitoring this trend throughout the season, and report again if we see any spikes, and also at the end of the season when we have a full picture of the 2017-18 season. But for now, this trend is promising.

It is worth revisiting the graph from last year’s report, showing a strong perception that advertising during 2016-17 NFL games had increased, which the data showed was not actually true.

NFL-commercials