If college football games feel longer, is it the commercials' fault? We checked the tapeSo it was last year when The Athletic ran a story about college football games taking longer, industry folks pinning the blame on increased offense but fans responding, No, it's the commercials.And so it is this year when new clock rules were instituted to shorten games, including doing away with stoppages after first downs until under two minutes remain in each half. And it wasn't just UCLA coach Chip Kelly, who told an ESPN reporter at halftime of the Bruins' season opener, "Hope you guys are selling a lot of commercials." After Week 2, The Athletic subscriber Stephen O. posed the following question as a Mailbag submission: “Stew, can you finally admit that these clock rules are nothing more than an excuse to shove more commercials down our throats? “Every single major game was at least three and a half hours!”In fact, the NCAA says average FBS game length has decreased from 3:22 to 3:16 through Week 3. But The Athletic loves a good conspiracy theory. So we decided to investigate whether there really are more commercials in 2023 college football broadcasts.In doing so, we learned far more than we anticipated about how in-game commercial breaks work.go-deeper
It's the commercials. They're the easy punching bag, the easy excuse.
GO DEEPERAre college football's new game clock rules working?We started with a source who might know a thing or two about the topic: Jim Minnich, a senior VP at Disney who oversees ad sales for all sports properties on ABC/ESPN's networks. We asked him point-blank: Have college football's new clock rules allowed you to insert more commercials?“The easy answer is no, they have not changed,” he said. “They're consistent year over year. That's the simplest and easier answer.”Mark Womack, associate commissioner of the SEC, whose job includes game operations, was just as emphatic.“The concept that we've shortened the game with the first-down rule in order to sell more advertising is completely false,” Womack said.Case closed.Or was it? Isn't that exactly what someone who is trying to secretly insert more commercials into football games would say?We decided to investigate further. But to do so, we needed a crash course in college football commercial breaks.