Sunday’s game between the Seahawks and Saints went the entire first quarter without a commercial. It’s the second time in three weeks a Seahawks game has gone all or nearly all of the first stanza without trying to earn the almighty ad dollar.
While the NFL hasn’t spoken up about why this happened, there’s an obvious suspect. Overall NFL ratings are down this season and the league is trying to figure out a solution. So the possible strategy? Keep the action going and don't give viewers an excuse to change the channel.
The Seattle market hasn't been able to totally buck the trend. Although ratings for Seahawks games specifically are up over last year, NFL ratings as a whole in the Seattle market are down. That's what makes the move Sunday somewhat peculiar. People in Seattle are already watching Seahawks games. So perhaps the move was more aimed at the New Orleans market or any other non-NFL market that may have been seeing that game.
Normally, the first commercial will air sometime within the first two offensive drives of the game. In some cases, they'll go to a commercial when a team scores, then show the ensuing kickoff, then go to another break.
But the Seattle-New Orleans game was well into its sixth drive before the quarter ended and the first commercial aired. That was 29 minutes, 38 seconds of actual TV time from the moment the FOX broadcast began to the first break.
In the Oct. 16 game between the Seahawks and Falcons, the first commercial came with 2:02 left in the first quarter and only while a play was under review. That was about 25 minutes of actual TV time.
It’s not clear if any other NFL games went the entire first quarter without a commercial Sunday
There is no simple answer as to why ratings are down, but here have been plenty of theories:
- The games just aren't as good this season
- Poor officiating is turning people off
- Games being streamed more on mobile and Twitter, thereby affecting TV ratings
- Players not allowed to show their personalities. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman wrote about this
- Too much saturation: Games are on three days a week
- NFL boycotts due to players protesting during the national anthem