NFL reportedly restructuring ad breaks

Roger Goodell
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell poses with two marines during the 2012 NFL Draft. Image: MarineCorps New York/Flickr

In the final stretch of the regular season, the NFL could be looking to change up its traditional ad break formula.

According to Ad Age, the NFL is considering taking the normal five ad breaks per quarter down to four. But the League will still carry the identical ad load, meaning that the breaks will be longer.

The trial will kick off during the Week 16 games scheduled to air during Christmas weekend and continue with ESPN’s Monday Night Football matchup between the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions. While a consistent ad load means the NFL won’t have to give up any ad revenue, the League is hoping to learn more about the structure of ad breaks as it relates to overall fan experience, according to the report.

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RELATED: NFL Network CEO: We’re discussing ad loads with broadcasters

Reports of the NFL’s apparent willingness to tinker with ad breaks comes as the League has been experiencing a bit of a down season in terms of ratings. If the NFL does indeed change things up, it would gel with comments that NFL Network CEO Brian Rolapp made earlier.

During a keynote address at NAB Show New York, Rolapp acknowledged that NFL consumption is down 14% this year, but also noted that Thursday Night football consumption has more than doubled in the past few years. Regardless, the NFL is exploring ways to improve the viewer experience, including discussing new ways of approaching ads during the games.

“We have lots of ideas for improving viewership,” said Rolapp, detailing conversations the League is having with its broadcast partners about not just cutting out commercials, but also spreading them out differently.

Even if NFL ratings have flagged, average ad rates for NFL spots have trended up this season, according to Standard Media Index.

According Standard Media Index’s numbers for September, the average 30-second spot among networks showing NFL games in September was $489,193, up 4% from the same period last year and up 10% from 2014.

“Our new cost level data clearly shows that while ratings on football have been under pressure early in the season, average unit costs continue to increase. This demonstrates that live sport and the huge audiences it attracts are an outstanding drawcard for major brands,” said James Fennessy, CEO of SMI, in a statement.

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