I like watching football, but I cannot stand the way the games are televised.

On the clock, you have 60 minutes per game, of which there is maybe thirty 14 minutes of actual football played. In real time, that 14 minutes occurs over the course of 3 and ½ hours.

Who the hell has time for that 15 weeks a year, plus the playoffs?

But given that I am in recovery mode, and unable to do much of anything, I decide to Tivo the Bears-Seahawks game and the Jets-Patriots. But I take a nap (hey, gotta get my strength back) so I sit down watch the Bears (with my Chicago native brother-in-law) about 2 hours into the game.


Its more than no commercials — yhough that is great — the 30 second advance means none of the inane color commentary (“You gotta catch the ball!” Really?I wasn’t sure that was a rule!)  Penalties, injuries, time outs, replays, breaking news, other scores  — all gone.

We end up watching the entire game in 40 minutes.

Next up: Jets Patriots!

I may never watch a huddle or time out ever again . . .


UPDATE — January 16, 2011 7:05PM

So we catch up to the live game for the last 7 minutes — it is interminable, taking as long as the previous 53 minutes of game time.

Category: Sports

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

44 Responses to “Football and the 30 Second Advance Button”

  1. dawase says:

    Maybe now you won’t post the score of Game 7 of the NBA Finals immediately after the game and ruin it for all the other Tivo’ers out there…

    No I’m not still bitter or anything.

  2. SCIA says:

    Welcome to 2005.

  3. lutton says:

    30 minutes? think lower. Someone did a study, and the actual length of time of active play is around 11 minutes or 14 minutes.

    Otherwise, you’re spot on: you can record an NFL game and begin watching about 2 hours in, and probably finish live. The 30 second skip is key, though. It’s a pain to use FF in place of the skip. (Some DVRs and/or their remotes don’t have 30 second skip as a default feature.)

    ah, here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704281204575002852055561406.html

    According to a Wall Street Journal study of four recent broadcasts, and similar estimates by researchers, the average amount of time the ball is in play on the field during an NFL game is about 11 minutes.

    In other words, if you tally up everything that happens between the time the ball is snapped and the play is whistled dead by the officials, there’s barely enough time to prepare a hard-boiled egg. In fact, the average telecast devotes 56% more time to showing replays.

  4. lutton says:

    Ironically, twitter has ruined this a bit, in that I’m getting feedback about plays I haven’t seen yet.

    My goal for most recording of sporting events is to catch up to live before the conclusion.

  5. huxrules says:

    I guess someone doesn’t drink. The pacing of football games if fine – three hours is plenty of time to get a serious buzz on. Best be good and tipsy when your teams playoff chances come down to the wire in the fourth.

  6. Darkness says:

    I find a 24 second jump to be optimal for most football that’s not in a hurry-up offense.

  7. dr_w says:

    I was thinking just as BR, too little game too much commercial. How about Rugby as an alternative? Every bit a tough (if not tougher) than football – no pads! Non-stop action. the game just goes on like soccer.

  8. yes, no doubt, DVRs are a g-dsend to watching Sporting Events–esp. Football, as you mention..

    almost similar, here http://redzonetv.nfl.com/ the NFL has taken advantage of the current, widely available, morass, that is Televised Football, and created a Premium Channel..


  9. obsvr-1 says:

    Think about all the time and money for the folks in the stadium

  10. DonF says:

    I gave up on the NFL years ago as I just don’t have the time for it and it’s not a product I enjoy watching any longer and I was a huge fan from the 70′s through 2000.

    More important to you, Barry,imo is not seeing the food commercials when you have the stomach flu. I was unfortunate to have it a couple of weeks ago and when watching college football couldn’t believe how many commercials were about horrible food that I had no stomach to see.

  11. Robert M says:

    There is something called RZR but it does come w/ commentary.
    Keep drinking water and eating bananas. 12 lbs is a lot of fluid and electrolyte

  12. prozach says:

    Haha, try watching a Cricket match!


    Games in the sport of cricket are played over a number of hours or days, making it one of the sports with the longest playing time, though sailing, yachting, road cycling and rallying are sometimes longer.

    Just imagine adding commercial breaks into one of those matches!

  13. TerryC says:

    The number one reason to TIVO nowadays is the inane chatter of the commentators and announcers. I swear they never shut up. Almost makes you miss John Madden (not really). These guys fill in every possible second. In the olden days you could turn on CBS radio and turn down the volume on the TV and just get bare bones play-by-play (this was really good when you didn’t want to hear a word Howard Cosell had to say on Monday Night Football.

    I’m a Bears fan living in Texas, and I have become a big fan of high school football-minimum announcing, fast games, lots of action, and the players really play all out (not jaded yet by those big bucks contracts).

  14. jpmist says:

    I run EyeTV on my Mac Mini to my big assed TV and EyeTV lets you set how many seconds you can skip ahead and back, so I generally go for 28 seconds forward and 7 seconds back in case I miss a quick snap or fumble. It also has a set of extra key combinations so I can go 90 seconds to blast thru the time outs and commercials with a few extra presses. I ‘ve been doing this back before ReplayTV disappeared 10 years ago.

    EyeTV also lets me do my own frame by frame replays as well.

    I find that I don’t miss the drama of the extra point attempt as well as the punt return. It’s easy to back skip in the rare cases something interesting happens. You do miss the rhythm and some of the suspense of the game viewing that way but for some of the boring games we had this weekend, it really came in handy.

    I find it works with basketball as well since it takes about 8 to 10 seconds to dribble the ball down court and set up the next play.

  15. tenaciousd says:

    Yes! TiVo has allowed me to enjoy watching racing and tennis again. Honestly, if I had to go back to watching TV in real time, I’d probably just quit watching it altogether.

  16. Bob is still unemployed   says:

    For the most part, except for the news, I rarely watch TV in real time anymore. I Tivo® what I want to see (I like the two tuner capability) and then use the viewing flexibility provided by the Tivo® to watch what I want. Thirty minute TV shows are viewed in 22 to 24 minutes. And, as you have noticed, sporting events fly by.

  17. Jojo says:

    The only part of football I enjoy is the highlights!

    I’ve only been to one live football game and that was many years back. But I am curious.

    What happens for the live audience during the breaks? Do they sit and watch cheerleaders? Are there jugglers and fire-eaters? Comic acts? I mean it seems like it would be pretty boring sitting there for 3 hours for only 14 minutes of action!

  18. Jack says:

    Add my two cents on the announcers/commentators/color people. Horrible. Then add another two cents for the actual production. Do you really want to see a closeup of a guy in a football helmet? Or a coach covering his mouth with a multicolored piece of plastic?

    It ain’t sports anymore and the public is slowly figuring that out. Watch for ratings drops. The sizzle has overtaken the steak.

  19. Mike in Nola says:

    I have a friend who has satellite who does the speedwatching thing. He waits til it’s almost over to start watching. His problem is a friend who keeps calling up and wants to talk about what already happened.

  20. WNL says:

    I had two very old Replays (bought by Panasonic) that I never replaced only because they did the 30 second skip and Tivo did not. I still have one limping along and I was worrying what to do when it died, so I am very happy to hear one can now skip on the Tivo.

    Replays also used an ancient technology, no longer understood, to know the TV schedule. I think it was called a MODEN or something like that.

  21. Expat says:

    When I lived in London ten years ago, one of the stations played MLB recaps at eleven at night. I recall the games lasted about 30 minutes. The commentary was done by Brits so it was sometimes painful, sometimes cute and occasionally downright silly. I also suspect that they would have reduced a perfect game down to three minutes, showing only the runs scored without cottoning on to the pitching!

  22. Gregor Germany says:

    There is a good reason to love Chip Kelly’s fast pace style.

    It takes the Oregon Ducks about 14 seconds to start a new play. Much too fast for most opponents.

  23. mathman says:

    What’s up wit’ fitty cent twittering his over 3 million “followers” glowingly about some little known stock(sending it way up) – of which it turns out he’s a major stockholder?

  24. gd says:

    This is somehow related to those 3000 CDs, isn’t it?

  25. Kort says:

    Tivo is great but now that they’ve resorted to giving away their hardware for free, it becomes increasingly hard to see how they are a standalone company in a few years.

  26. BennyProfane says:

    Mark Twain considered golf a waste of valuable time, but, at least it was a good walk spoiled. I’m pretty sure he would have some nasty words about the millions of modern Americans who sit around glued to the flat screen gaining another pound or two watching NFL games, especially if it was such a nice day as yesterday. I stopped following football when I got off my butt twenty years ago and decided to enjoy fall Sundays outside. Whenever I turn it on, I see that I haven’t missed much, especially that godawful commentary. (Did anybody catch Sportsdome, an Onion production, on Comedy Central? You should)

    But, this is a banner year for the NFL, I hear, so, they must be doing something right. Whatever, I’ll go skiing or sledding with the nephew, and rejoice in the turning seasons when the reports from spring training come in.

  27. Bokolis says:

    Downtime between plays is the consequence of watching rugby for fairies. Actually, it would make for good build-up if we didn’t have to endure the filler commentary and force-fed ads.

    If the ex-jock color guys’ gibberish and the constant coach/crowd shots didn’t make it obvious that they are catering to the marginal viewer, the uncreative and childish beer commercials should remove the rest of the doubt.

  28. dompazz says:

    My friends and I call it “speed football.” It is awesome to watch two games between 5 and 7pm. The only downside is the number of chores your wife finds for you, now that you have free time!

  29. schirimiester says:

    Say what you want about soccer but @ least it’s over in 2 hours.

    PS And we have the same rants in the soccer community about the OVER WORDY commentators. I swear they must get paid PER WORD. Brutal.

  30. uglyowl says:

    There is so much going on in one football play that it is the only sport worth watching in close to real time. I think you need the replays to understand why plays happened the way they did and most announcers do a pretty good job with this.

    Football games are good to start 30-40 minutes late to skip the commercials and halftime. Doing this with baseball though is a no brainer, try watching 162 games per year at 3 hours (3 1/2 hours if you are a fan of the Sox or Yanks).

  31. Greg0658 says:

    Rascal and I went to the the husky demo and took a 2.5mile hike thru the canyons .. now comes the BigBad Bears / GB match / march to SUPER BOWLLLLLLLLLLLL

  32. uzer says:

    What’s Tivo? Some new recording/playback technology?

  33. mbelardes says:

    Barry, even for me, it’s difficult to crush a days worth of beers in 20 minutes of football. It’s better if I crush a days worth of beers … well … over the course of a day. So that’s why I enjoy 3 hours of football times 3 or 4 games. It’s great!

  34. Clem Stone says:

    I can tolerate 3 hrs of football, but baseball without 100x speedup is like Chinese Water Torture. And I’m old! It’s hard to believe the video game generation is willing to sit through any of these things that don’t feature explosions every 3 seconds.

  35. socaljoe says:

    You are undermining the television business model and the basis of the american consumption based economy.

    Who cares what a bunch of grown men in tights are doing?

    Get off the couch and play a sport… it’s more fun and better for you.

  36. Cynic_FA says:

    tenaciousd Says:

    January 16th, 2011 at 9:04 pm
    Yes! TiVo has allowed me to enjoy watching racing and tennis again. Honestly, if I had to go back to watching TV in real time, I’d probably just quit watching it altogether.

    Recording games and TV shows for years now. Agree with tenacious that if not able to record and watch without commercials, might as well quit watching. Comcast has put a damper on this with digital boxes that eliminate the Tivo record one channel / watch another option. I have to record on my new Comcast DVR and pay Comcast for the privilege now.

    Silly how the sports telecasters respond to the threat of TIVO by increasing the number and length of commercials. the worse the televised games become, the more people switch to recording games and ski[[ing the commercials entirely. The terrible part is that they are ruining the experiencee of watching the games live at the stadium. I gave up half my college football tickets to watch the games on DVR.

  37. sir magneto says:

    Watching only the 11 minutes of action in football is like eating only the marshmallows in a bowl of lucky charms. That boring fiber in between plays adds balance, perspective, and time for absorption/processing of the complexities exploding on the field in 3-5 second bursts. With any pauses for reflection, it’s just a cheap sugar high.

    Removing the commercials is like stopping someone who just gave you a bowl of cheerios from peeing in them.

  38. sir magneto says:

    oops without any pause for reflection

  39. Expat says:

    @magneto: your analogy is compelling and oddly titillating, yet totally bizarre.

  40. [...] Football and the 30 Second Advance Button By Barry Ritholtz – January 16th, 2011, 5:08PM [...]

  41. Lord says:

    You make time for it in anticipation of the drought the rest of the year. It matches my attention span. I can do something else during it, grab a snack or drink, etc. Gotta fill those hours.

  42. VennData says:

    You simple need an app that covers all of your media inputs that states “Hey I’m DVRing such-and-such a game.” …then sync your tweats, calls, emails and even blog reading to the actual time YOU’RE viewing the recording.

    Look for it as soon as the Rupert Murdock’s of the world are chastened.

  43. daredevil23 says:

    @schirimiester: really? 2 hours of unscrupulous “simulation”, mostly mid-field passing ,waiting for a nil-nil draw, praying the ref doesn’t make a bad call that costs your team the game is better?

  44. dream-king says:

    Yes, it is.

    I can’t stand watching American football, for this very reason. My aversion to basketball is less, but driven by the same premise. My time is worth more than to spend it listening to 3.5 hours of steroid-drenched men wandering around the field and unending, meaningless filler-talk from commentators, in exchange for 15 minutes of drama or activity. I wanted to like American football, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Now that the DVR ff option is around, it’s too late. Even with it, I can barely bring myself to watch the Super Bowl and it’s solely for the shared social experience.

    That same respect for my time (as well as cultural biases) helps drive me to LOVE soccer. Foot-eye coordination is so much more of an impressive feat than hand-eye, and the players rarely ever stop moving. As physical as it is, it’s still an intellectual game in a way that American football might approach but can’t because of the interminable filler. I could do without the bad acting in soccer (you brushed by me? Ow, my spine!), but in the end the time limits keep the whole endeavor much more honest. There is some change in activity every 5-6 seconds on average. All the while they’re doing intensive footwork, most soccer players run 6-10 miles per game doing it. (Defenders can slack in this regard.)