The NFL has had more than its share of public relations problems in recent seasons, but one change implemented for 2017 figures to receive unanimous praise from fans.
In cooperation with the broadcast partners that pay most of its bills, the NFL has altered its procedure for commercial breaks, reducing them from five (or more) per quarter to four.
Yes, that means breaks will be longer, but most will consider it a small price to pay to avoid frustrating fans – and players, and coaches, and fans in the stadium – with frequent interruptions.
That includes the most frustrating of all – when an advertising break after a score is followed by another break after the ensuing kickoff.
“The league is avoiding these ‘double-ups,’ as we refer to them, at all costs,” ESPN “Monday Night Football” producer Jay Rothman said on a call with reporters Wednesday. “That’s dreadful for everybody. So that’s a big win.”
Rothman said the NFL also hopes to reduce replay reviews to a minute or perhaps 75 seconds by streamlining the process using officials in New York, with game officials looking at tablets rather than “going under the hood.”
“In those situations we’ll be staying; we will not be using those as break opportunities,” Rothman said. “So there will be less interruption of play. The breaks will be a tick longer. They will all be 2 minutes and 20 seconds in length, and we’ll make up our sponsorship in that additional time per break, but again, less interruptions, better flow, better for everybody.
“There are some different ad innovations that the league is offering partners, but the idea is to stay live as much as possible and keep the games moving and keep the flow going. That’s a big win for everybody.”
Another change aimed at keeping non-game action from cluttering telecasts: CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said promotions for, say, that night’s “60 Minutes” no longer will be read by the play-by-play man – as they have been for decades – but will be incorporated into ad breaks.
Cue the nostalgia for those among us old enough to remember Pat Summerall’s dramatic pause at the comma in plugging that night’s episode of “Murder, She Wrote.” Such flourishes will be no more.