Broadcasters like CBS, Fox and NBC are working with the NFL on big changes to broadcasts for next season, including the introduction of split-screen ads.
According to Bloomberg, the networks are experimenting with the format that would show an ad on one side of the screen and show what’s happening on the field on the other side. As the report points out, FOX has already experimented with the format during NASCAR broadcasts.
The NFL previously announced that it would be reducing the number of ad breaks during a quarter from five to four, though it will still show the same number of ads, meaning the breaks will be longer.
In a note to fans, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is working with broadcasters to speed up the action.
“Together with our broadcast partners, we will be working to meaningfully reduce down time and the frequency of commercial breaks in our game. We will also be giving our broadcast partners increased flexibility to avoid untimely breaks in the action. For example, we know how annoying it is when we come back from a commercial break, kick off and then cut to a commercial again. I hate that too. Our goal is to eliminate it,” Goodell wrote.
One of the NFL’s plans to help speed up the pace of games will be to have officials use tablets on the field to review plays instead of going to the sidelines.
The changes for NFL broadcasts come after another season touched by a decrease in ratings. In February, analyst firm MoffettNathanson said that NFL ratings were down 9% during the regular season and 6% during the playoffs.
NFL broadcast partners including ABC’s ESPN, CBS, FOX and NBC took hits to their bottom lines amid the ratings decline. According to Standard Media Index, year-over-year declines in November 2016 had revenue down 18% for CBS, 5.8% for NBC, 14.5% for Fox and 7.6% for ABC. Total NFL ad spend fell 26% across all four broadcasters.
While all of the traditional linear broadcast partners are back for the 2017-2018 NFL season, Amazon will join the mix as the streaming home for Thursday Night Football. Amazon will offer the games to its Prime subscribers after winning the rights in a bidding war with Twitter, which held the rights last season, as well as Facebook and YouTube.