Too Many Commercials In NBA Playoffs

By George Laase

Special to the Observer

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I was quite fortunate to be able to photograph a playoff game between our Clippers and the San Antonio Spurs recently. The first quarter was so fast-paced and frantic. It seemed it was over in a flash. On the other hand, the second quarter and the whole second half seemed to drag on endlessly.

The next day I got on the internet and found a report showing the number of television commercial breaks that occurred during the game. There were two commercial breaks in the first quarter lasting six and three minutes--totaling nine minutes. In the second quarter, though, there were three breaks of nine, six and three minutes--for a total of 18 minutes.

Time for another Gaico commercial

The second quarter seemed longer because it was longer. So, I wasn’t crazy. The second half of the game had the same number of commercial breaks as the first and probably had a few more thrown in during the last timeouts of this hotly-contested game.

More commercials Than Game

So when you add up all the commercial breaks: There was almost an hour’s worth of commercials compared to just 48-minutes of actual playing time. Long-time sports commentator Chris Sheridan, in talking about how these playoff games seem to go on and on, put it into perceptive, when he pointed out that these numerous commercial breaks were changing the natural flow of the game and robbing the home fans of their game experience. The game was being chopped up by the commercial breaks into smaller three or four minute "bursts" of play.

Let it flow

When the commercial aspect of televising a game becomes much more important than the actual experience of the live event something has to give. The National Basketball Association needs to rethink its priorities by putting more emphasis on the fans’ game experience ahead of its television advertisers. But does the NBA have the guts to try and restore the natural flow of the game by spacing those highly lucrative commercial breaks further apart?

Embracing technology

At least the home viewers have the technological option of fast-forwarding through these dreaded commercials. But the fans at the game can't fast-forward. They have to sit through some of the craziest basketball-theme “circus acts” the owners’ stage in trying to entertain the arena crowd while the league’s broadcast affiliates are raking in the advertising money.

I've noticed that World Soccer telecasts don’t have as many commercial breaks. The networks raise revenues by selling the advertising space at the bottom of the screen, so the teams can play their 45 minute-long halves, mostly uninterrupted.

Hi-Ho Silver, Away

Major League Baseball is showing some concern with their fan base at the ballpark and is experimenting with new rules to help speed up the game. But, will Adam Silver, the new NBA Commissioner, follow suit and try to address this plague of commercials? Or have television advertisers already gained too much power over the game?

Are the players and owners so addicted to receiving their hefty cut of the all-mighty advertising dollar to want to change anything? Is the NBA even worried about restoring the game’s natural flow as long as the money keeps flowing?

Call me cynical

It makes me wonder about the real reasons behind why these professional franchises might want to speed up their games. If their efforts are successful, will it be to enhance the paying fan’s experience at the game or will it be done just to make a little more room so they can squeeze in another one or two of those lucrative commercials into their telecasts?

Only time will tell.


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