Tired of college football games lasting so long? You aren’t the only one who is. Last month, ESPN reported that the average game time went from 3:17 in 2013 to 3:24 for the 2016 season, up a whole seven minutes.
Disney CEO Bob Iger said in a recent conference call that his company, which owns both ABC and ESPN, is looking to specifically lower the amount of advertisements on both networks. Madison.com has more on his recent comments.
"I think that in general, there is probably too much commercial interruption in television," Iger told investors on the company's first-quarter earnings call. Disney will specifically look at lowering ad load on ABC and ESPN.
This is not a completely original thought for a television executive. In 2015, Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) started experimenting with lower ad loads during its TruTV primetime programming. Viacom and 21st Century Fox also started experimenting with ways to reduce ads for viewers at the end of 2015.
Time Warner’s results have been promising, according to the company’s CEO, Jeff Bewkes. The company cut advertising during prime time TruTV programming in half. Bewkes stressed, however, that the change in approach is still in the early stages.
Advertiser response has been extremely positive. We are seeing improved ratings because there's less dislocation going into the advertising pot and coming out, and we have seen higher consumer satisfaction and higher brand recall.
The results for Disney’s ABC and ESPN will be interesting to see, given that both networks have much larger audiences than TruTV does. But given the long length of college football games, and the fact that both networks are suffering from losing viewership, having less ads might help bring some of those viewers back.
Aside from limiting the number of commercial breaks, ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported last month a number of ideas from coaches and powerful figures in college football to make games shorter. Some of them involved cutting the halftime shows.
Miami AD Blake James:
"You don't want to cut halftimes because of the difference between our games and the NFL," he said, citing the marching bands in college as one difference. "It's hard to envision [reducing] commercial times, so we have to figure out ways to make games a little shorter."
Washington State coach Mike Leach, always one to speak his mind:
"If they mess with that, they are idiots," said Leach, whose Cougars were tied for the fourth-longest game average among Pac-12 teams at 3:30. "They should have fewer commercial breaks. If they don't want to cut the number of commercials, then fit them into less [game] breaks."
Less commercial breaks would probably make a lot of fans who think the games are too long very happy.