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NFL Looks To Streamline Its Broadcasts In An Effort To Boost Its Tumbling Ratings

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The commissioner of the National Football League, Roger Goodell, recently announced that broadcasts of NFL games for the 2017 season will streamlined and will run fewer commercials in an effort to speed up the games and keep fan interest in the broadcasts. The NFL’s television ratings have been dropping severely over the past several seasons and it looks as if this new broadcast strategy is designed to stop the bleeding.

Goodell, 58, announced on Twitter that, “Together with our broadcast partners, we will be working to meaningfully reduce down time and the frequency of commercial breaks in our game. We will also be giving our broadcast partners increased flexibility to avoid untimely breaks in the action. For example, we know how annoying it is when we come back from a commercial break, kick off, and then cut to a commercial again. I hate that too. Our goal is to eliminate it.”

Goodell mentioned that the moves are in response to fan backlash about so many disruptions in the game. The majority of the ire centers around the inordinate number of commercial breaks as well as the frequency of instant replay. Most of the time, fans end up watching a game at least three times as there seems to be an instant replay of every single play. When there is a challenge by a coach, fans can end up looking at the same play over a dozen times.

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The NFL will begin implementing its new broadcast strategy over the next few months in an effort to reduce disruption. The league looks to streamline commercial breaks as well as play stoppage due to instant replay reviews. The league is doing this, Goodell says, in response to research it did last year among fans. In addition, Goodell looks to do something about one of the major annoyances which is known as double ups. This is when a commercial is shown after a score. The game resumes with the kickoff and then there is another commercial break before the game returns.

Goodell says that, “It drives me crazy. We call those ‘double-ups.’ They actually occurred 27% of the time (on kickoffs last season). And that’s still too high for us. We also know that you feel there are too many elements in the broadcast that aren’t relevant to the play on the field. With our partners, we will be looking to instead focus on content that is most complementary and compelling to you — whether that is analysis, highlights or stories about our players.”

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The average time for an NFL game is a little over three hours and the league isn’t looking to shorten the games as much as make them a more engaging experience for the fans. Fan engagement is a challenge that all of the major professional sports are having especially Major League Baseball.

The league research suggests that fans really don’t notice how long a commercial tends to be but how many of them are played during a game. The league hopes to eliminate at least a minute every quarter of commercial time to start.

Goodell went on to state that, “What we’re looking to do is take that down time out, which is not entertaining. And in our research, we had biofeedback, so we could see what they were watching and you could tell when they’re not as interested in what’s happening in the broadcast. We have seen commercialization maybe creep into the game in areas that we don’t think is appropriate,” he told the publication. “And we’re going to work with our network partners to try to pull that back, to make sure that we can create that compelling experience for our fans.”

Mr. Sawyer is a freelance writer, editor and journalist from Tampa. He has written thousands of articles for hundreds of magazines and news sites on countless topics including science, the media and technology. He is also the author of many white papers, special reports and ebooks covering a wide range of subjects.
Kevin Sawyer
Broadcast Beat - Production Industry Resource