November 7, 2010

More Evidence Commercials Are The #1 Reason Games Are Longer

About a month ago, David Biderman of Wall Street Journal wondered: How Much Action Is In A Baseball Game?"
...we reviewed a pair of nationally televised nine-inning baseball games from earlier this season, one shown on Fox and the other on ESPN, and used a stopwatch to break them down into their component parts. ...

The result is that during these games, there was a nearly identical amount of action: about 14 minutes. To put that in context, that's about 10.9% of the total broadcast time (excluding commercials). ...

So how do the modern games compare with Game 6 of the 1952 World Series between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees, the oldest complete-game broadcast that MLB has in its possession? While the amount of action was roughly similar -- about 13 minutes -— we tallied only nine minutes and 44 seconds of commercials. The tally for today's games, 42 minutes and 10 seconds, was more than four times as high.
That 1952 World Series game (Yankees 3, Dodgers 2) was played in 2:56. With the additional commercials -- more than 32 minutes of them -- it would have lasted 3:28.

Forget additional pitching changes and batters stepping out and pitchers dawdling on the mound. Just the added commercials alone would have pushed that 1952 game longer than 13 of the last 16 World Series games.

15 comments:

Dr. Jeff said...

How much action in an NFL game? I would think less.

Sean said...

But the times are (at least theoretically) not additive. I'm sure MLB and their advertisers would argue that they're showing commercials during between inning warmups and 68.6% of the game where everyone is just standing around.

L-girl said...

I tracked the ads during the action of the game. Someone is tracking the ads in between innings.

How much time is baseball actually being played without the presence of advertising?

(No time, if you count the screen time for all the ads in the park, but if we subtract that.)

L-girl said...

But the times are (at least theoretically) not additive. I'm sure MLB and their advertisers would argue that they're showing commercials during between inning warmups and 68.6% of the game where everyone is just standing around.

I think the point is that the time between innings has increased in order to get in more ads.

Pokerwolf said...

I think the point is that the time between innings has increased in order to get in more ads.

Indeed. Go watch a minor league game and time it. The time between innings is maybe five minutes and that's when there's a pitching change. Compare that to the amount of time there is between innings in for a MLB game. You have time to go to the bathroom (with a long line) and maybe grab something to eat and get back to your seat without missing a thing.

L-girl said...

On a related tangent, I feel that replay is way over done. Some replay is needed and instructive, obviously. But do we need to see every at-bat 3 times?

We once saw a game where every inning was broadcast using the technology of a different decade, beginning with the earliest televised broadcast, until now. Does anyone else remember this? It showed how the broadcast styles changed as technical capabilities changed.

The late 80s, early 90s seemed (IMO) to be ideal use of technology. Everything after that seemed like overkill, from the "just because you have it, doesn't mean you have to use it" school of thought.

Mylegacy said...

I NEVER watch a game live - I PVR it and after it's been being recorded for at least an hour and a half I then start to watch my recording and using fast forward I finish watching the game at almost the exact same time the live game actually ends.

The bad part of this of course is that I miss all those fascinating, wonderfully entertaining, commercials - but then - we all have to make sacrifices, such is life, n'est pas?

redsock said...

Of course, you still get to enjoy all of the commercials and sponsored-bys during every half-inning!

Even live, I miss the commercials. The TV is always muted, I may be getting more wine, or checking on pitches I may have missed, or counting pitches, filling in the stat line for now-relieved pitchers, etc., or going to the bathroom, etc.

***
And at some point, it became essential that the announcers talk ALL THE FUCKING TIME. Like if they were quiet, they were not doing their job. Which is bullshit.

I was watching some of the 1975 WS recently. No in-game billboards, minimal replays, laughably crude stats graphics, and a normal amount of talking. It was great.

I have the Impossible Dream DVD but I have not watched the game. I think it is the next to last game of the 1967 season. I believe there are many long stretches of silence. Which actually adds to the pleasures and tensions of the game. Gotta watch that this winter.

Amy said...

How do they define "action"? In a 3 hours game, 14 minutes of action seems like very little. Do they only count when the ball is in motion or a runner is in motion? Is the pitcher's wind up part of the action? Or when the pitcher is getting the signal from the catcher? Is there action when the pitcher tries to throw out someone on first?
I find it hard to believe that 89.9% of the broadcast is commercial time, so something else must count as "non-action," no?

Amy said...

And I agree---talk less, observe more.

I could never DVR a game. Sports is about the only thing left to watch live, and for me, that is part of the excitement---knowing that it is happening as I watch and that I have to be patient and wait for the game to happen.

Ish said...

WOO HOO!!!

ESPN has decided NOT to renew the contracts of Jon Miller and Joe Morgan for next season!

!!!!!!!!!

Ish said...

Here's the ESPN link.

Ish said...

Here's the ESPN link.

Amy said...

No more Jon Miller? That's great!

Jeremy said...

I just finished reading Hells Angels so I thought "action" meant moneymaking by the MLB/networks for running ads. Not that the Hells Angels made money on ads, but because HST talked about "action" and it made me conflate the two in my mind. It wasn't until I realized action meant actual play on the field that I realized I should probably go to bed ><