Across sports, leagues are looking for ways to shorten their games. In two particularly high-profile cases, Major League Baseball is limiting time between innings and will soon regulate time between pitches and the NFL is reducing breaks while ditching the hated touchdown-commercial-kickoff-commercial sequence.
Now the Pac-12 is making a move toward shorter games, and the conference’s television network is apparently willing to sacrifice commercial breaks to make it happen. According to reports out of Pac-12 Media Day, conference commissioner Larry Scott promised fewer breaks and abridged halftimes on some non-conference games this upcoming season.
Pac-12 Networks non-conference games will have fewer commercial breaks and a 15 minute halftime to experiment with shorter game times.
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) July 26, 2017
Scott says some nonconference games on P12 Nets will have fewer commercial breaks and reduced halftime, from 20 minutes to 15.
— Christian Caple (@ChristianCaple) July 26, 2017
Though these two changes should shorten games, they have the potential to upset arguably the Pac-12’s two most important constituencies: the coaches and the TV executives. Shorter halftimes mean less time for players to catch their breath and less time for coaches to make adjustments. Fewer commercial breaks likely mean less revenue for the TV networks, though those losses can be recouped with longer breaks.
Given the attention spans of younger viewers and the multitude of entertainment options available in 2017, leagues everywhere have incentive to shorten their events, but that’s generally tough to pull off. Most of the fluff in a football game either makes the TV network money or gives the players some rest. You know the Pac-12 is serious about making changes if they’re willing to push set aside those interests.
For now, however, it looks like the Pac-12’s changes are experimental. They will take effect only for some non-conference games, meaning we’re probably talking about no more than a handful. But if the network execs and coaches don’t rebel, you have to imagine Scott and company will expand their game-shortening efforts. Ideally, breezier games lead to more people watching and engaging, which is good news for everybody.