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Football games are a triumph of TV production

Now that we’ve all just spent an entire evening glued to our big screen TVs watching the Super Bowl, I thought it would be a decent time to reflect on exactly how much football we saw over the last four hours or so.

It turns out, not that much.

According to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal, the typical NFL football game contains a paltry 11 minutes of actual game play. The rest of the time is taken up with huddles, time-outs and running the clock down.

TV producers have gotten creative over the years trying to find ways to keep a dreadfully slow and rather boring game engaging to viewers back home.

From the Wall Street Journal:

So what do the networks do with the other 174 minutes in a typical broadcast? Not surprisingly, commercials take up about an hour. As many as 75 minutes, or about 60% of the total air time, excluding commercials, is spent on shots of players huddling, standing at the line of scrimmage or just generally milling about between snaps. In the four broadcasts The Journal studied, injured players got six more seconds of camera time than celebrating players. While the network announcers showed up on screen for just 30 seconds, shots of the head coaches and referees took up about 7% of the average show.

If you think the networks are a little too fond of cheerleaders, you may be mistaken: In these broadcasts, only two networks showed cheerleaders at all. And when they did, they were only on camera for an average of three seconds.

But of course we all really watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. Thanks to Hulu, we don’t even have to sit through the football to enjoy and rate those this year.

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