Standard NFL scoring sequence: Touchdown – Play Under Review – Commercial Cutaway – Field Goal – Scheduled Commercial – Kickoff – Scheduled Commercial.
This sequence of events has been the blight of NFL football for about three years after the automatic review of any scoring play was implemented. Football’s detractors and snappy pie charts tout sequences like these as to why NFL games have only 11 minutes of “action,” or why the game feels more and more like a vehicle solely designed to sling Chevys and Bud Light. It’s a momentum killer. A chore to slog through. An opportunity to change the channel. And a problem that’s been brought up so many times on internet forums and blogs like these, the NFL had no choice but to remediate the situation for 2017-18.
The NFL and its broadcast partners, CBS, FOX, ESPN, and NFL Network, all debuted side-by-side ads simultaneously running alongside scoring reviews and challenges, time that would usually be spent away from the field showing the joys of Tide detergent. The “dead time” is also primed to be extremely lucrative for the NFL and whoever happens to buy slot regularly (all signs point to the Microsoft Surface, the official video replay tablet of the NFL), as fans are wont to change channels if they may miss the referee’s decision on a scoring play. The response from the internet has been overwhelmingly positive as well, and the net gain for fans is that about 10 minutes of commercial time was cut from the broadcast (via Sportsfacts.org). As someone who has watched countless hours of football: it’s noticeable. While football’s pace of play doesn’t grind like the final 2 minutes of basketball, or baseball in general, anecdotal and empirical evidence suggests that ad stoppages have become detrimental to the game, and may contribute to the steady decrease in NFL ratings over the past few seasons.
Despite the strong showing of innovation from the NFL’s marketing department, ratings still came out underwhelming for the opening weekend. Perhaps fewer ads will bump ratings in the coming weeks, or perhaps the NFL’s ratings “crisis” is more deeply systemic than meets the eye.
Oh, and of course, Amazon Prime’s streaming service had to get in on the fun for their groundbreaking partnership with the NFL.