The Pac-12 is discontinuing a pilot program designed to reduce the length of football games, but not because the experiment failed.
The program worked, reducing the duration of broadcasts by eight minutes. The conference has simply taken the matter as far as possible without widespread adoption.
If you’re unfamiliar with the program …
Over the course of the 2017-18 seasons, the Pac-12 took a variety of steps to reduce the length of games and game broadcasts on ESPN, Fox and the Pac-12 Networks:
For targeted games, the conference reduced halftime by five minutes, added in-game advertising (to cut down on commercial breaks) and moved kickoffs closer to the top of the hour from the standard :07 start.
All in all, according to the Pac-12, the average broadcast time was reduced from three hours and 26 minutes to three hours and 18 minutes.
The Pac-12 never intended for the program to continue indefinitely, and the schools decided enough data had been collected over two seasons. The detailed results will be made available for a broader national discussion.
“Improving the fan experience is a critical priority for the Pac-12, and we believe that taking steps to shorten the length of football games is one way to meet that objective,” commissioner Larry Scott said last year.
The length of games is but one area under examination by college football administrators in a quest to improve the fan experience in the jammed media and entertainment space.
The focus across the sport isn’t merely on in-home viewing to bolster TV ratings. Schools are also seeking new ways to lure fans to the stadium, with a growing number of campuses making alcohol available in general admission sections.