The NCAA Football Rules committee recently recommended new rules designed to speed up the game. If the recommendations are approved in April, it will be the third time in as many years that the rules of the game related to clock management have been tweaked. Many college football fans are wondering what is the wrong with the current length of games, and blame the television networks for the idea that games are too long.
About this time last year cfbstats.com, thewizofodds.com, College Sports on TV, and Steroid Nation, conducted a study which showed the average length of games and average plays per minute for each network in the 2005 and 2006 seasons. The network that clearly led both seasons with the longest average game was CBS. When the average game overall was almost 14 minutes shorter in 2006, CBS games were only shorter by 6 minutes and change. Even Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports was among those calling for a happy medium between football and the networks.
Now we’re back with the updated data for 2007, thanks again to the broadcast information from Matt at College Sports on TV. Looks like CBS has retained their crown as the leader in length of broadcast games.
|Big Ten Network||-||-||-||-||41||3:21:28|
|Fox Sports Net (Natl.)||31||3:30:31||34||3:11:35||32||3:31:34|
|Fox Sports Net (Rgnl.)||9||3:16:20||16||3:03:45||22||3:25:22|
|Local & PPV||54||3:19:55||66||3:04:19||75||3:21:38|
CBS is way out in front in 2007 at 3:47:04, the highest average game length of any network over the past 3 seasons. The only networks that are close are the NFL Network and FOX, but those networks only broadcast bowl games, which are typified by their interminable halftime shows. After those two, Fox Sports Net (National) and NBC games averaged 12:30 and 15:30 shorter than CBS, respectively.
CBS can be excused somewhat for its average game time since scoring was up in the SEC in 2007 and three SEC games on CBS went into overtime. Without those three overtime games, CBS averaged 3:38:28 for the other 15 games, which still puts it ahead of Fox Sports Net (National) and NBC.
Overall, the length of games in 2007 returned to 2005 levels, and then some. The average game in 2007 was 1:47 longer than in 2005. Of course, game lengths were down across the board in 2006 mainly due to the effect of rule 3-2-5e.
Another way of evaluating the network broadcasts is to use plays run per minute of the games. While time per game for a network can be skewed by long overtime games (like CBS in 2007), plays per minute is less affected. For this purpose, only rushing and passing plays are considered.
|Big Ten Network||-||-||-||-||5,838||0.71|
|Fox Sports Net (Natl.)||4,422||0.68||4,443||0.68||4,709||0.70|
|Fox Sports Net (Rgnl.)||1,240||0.70||2,013||0.69||3,214||0.71|
|Local & PPV||7,616||0.71||8,312||0.68||10,737||0.71|
The number of plays per minute in 2007 is actually higher than in 2005, 0.71 to 0.70. Games in 2007 averaged 143.42 plays per game versus 140.71 plays per game in 2005. So while the average length of games increased by 1:47, there were also 2.71 extra plays per game.
CBS and FOX had the lowest number of plays per minute at 0.64. In fact, the two networks have been the top two in lowest plays per minute each year from 2005 to 2007. Again, since FOX only broadcasted bowl games it makes sense that their numbers are among the lowest.
Some other observations…
— The Big Ten Network did well in its first year. Its average length of game was less than the national average, and it equaled the national average in plays per minute
— Comcast SportsNet, CSTV, the mtn., and Versus have all generally been better than average from year-to-year in length of games and plays per minute.
— ABC, ESPN, CBS, and NBC have all been generally worse than average from year-to-year in length of games and plays per minute.
— The percentage of games that were televised jumped to 79% in 2007, up from 72.4% in 2006 and 72.5% in 2005.
You can download the spreadsheet containing the data from this post by clicking here.