Anyone else notice something odd watching the start of Sunday’s game between the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks?
A distinct lack of commercials.
FOX did not take its first break until 2:02 left in the first quarter, and that only came while a play was being reviewed by the officials.
Normally if one team goes on a long drive to open the game, the network will go to a break right after that. If the first drive is quick, the other team will run its first series and then we go to a commercial.
But that didn’t happen. Seattle and Atlanta both ran two series before the first ad popped onto your screen.
It was 12:58 of game time, but 25 minutes in the real world without a commercial. That’s blasphemy in this era of broadcasting.
There was no official word from the NFL Sunday night as to why, but here’s an educated guess – ratings. It’s been no secret the NFL has seen sagging numbers this season. Viewership has been down in virtually every time slot.
Out of 32 total broadcast windows between Week 1 and Week 5, only seven saw viewership up over last year. All the others have been down, according to Sports Media Watch. Numbers for Week 6 weren’t available Sunday.
Several factors that have been speculated
- Games being streamed on mobile devices, which aren’t accounted for in the Nielsen ratings
- Boycotts over the national anthem protests that started with Colin Kaepernick
- Diluted product: The NFL is now on three days a week
- Or, perhaps, people are just not as interested in football anymore.
So what happened with Sunday’s Seahawks-Falcons game may be the league and the network experimenting to see if they can get those numbers up. Hold your audience for a long period at the start and maybe they’ll stay.
We’ve reached out to the NFL for comment.