Pac-12 to try out shorter halftimes, fewer commercial breaks

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Is the Pac-12 going to be at the forefront of increased college football efficiency?

Commissioner Larry Scott said Wednesday the conference would try out 15-minute halftimes and would be “implementing some other production techniques aimed at reducing the TV timeouts and having shorter breaks.”

Halftimes are currently 20 minutes. The experiment will happen during non-conference games televised on the Pac-12 Network.

“There are some things that happen in college sports that lengthen our football games that don’t happen in, for example, the NFL,” Scott said. “Notably, the clock stoppages that happen, incomplete passes, first downs that slow our game down. So our average game length in the Pac-12 was almost three and a half hours over the last few years. I think you’ll find that NFL games are closer to three hours.

“So I think there are things we can do through possible rules changes, the presentation of our game, game management, dealing with commercial inventory that could bring us closer to three hours than three and a half hours, and over time I think that will be a good thing for our fans.”

The experiment is notable, if only for the potential reduction in television ad time. Since commercials help pay for game broadcasts, cutting commercials isn’t an easy financial sell even if it makes a ton of sense on the surface.

College football games have gotten longer as more and more teams attempt to run as many plays as possible in them. Oh, and because there are lots of commercials. The NFL has said it’s going to make an effort in 2017 to reduce the number of commercial-kickoff-commercial sequences that can plague broadcasts.

Scott also said that the Pac-12 believed that having late-night games (for folks on the East Coast, anyway) was better for the conference than having a majority of games being late kickoffs.

“There’s a perception that all of our games are at night, two-thirds of them are what you would consider during day,” Scott said. “But of the third of our games that are at night, while there is less East Coast viewership, we dominate it. We’ve got the most market share.

“While somewhat counterintuitive, the research actually shows some of our best-rated games are 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. kickoff times. If it’s a compelling game, there are a lot of fans still watching TV, and we dominate the market share at that hour. Oftentimes more eyeballs than if we’ve got a game kicking off at 12:30 or 1:00 up against 15 other games on all the myriad of media channels that exist.”

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!