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A Lifetime of Commercials: The Average American Sports Fan Spends 80 Days of Their Life Watching Commercials

Do you love watching your favorite sports team play on TV? If so, then beware: the amount of time you're actually spending watching commercials may shock you. 

According to a recent study conducted by our researchers at WSN, the average American sports fan spends 115,860 minutes - that's more than 80 whole days – over their lifetime having to sit through commercials in order to watch their favorite teams! 

That’s a staggering amount of time and enough to make any avid sports fan consider how much money they spend each month on cable packages, to receive all those ads alongside those eye-watering fees. It’s not just an inconvenience, it drains away precious viewing time from our beloved games. 

In this article, we will look at the research that uncovered this information and discuss what it means for fans wanting more control over their viewing experience when it comes to rooting for their favourite team.

How Many Ads Do We Have to Watch per Game?

Sport

Average game length (m)

Average action length (m)

Advertising time (m)

Time spent watching game

Time spent watching ads

Basketball

135

48

44

36%

32%

Football

192

60

60

31%

31%

Hockey

120

60

30

50%

25%

Wrestling

180

100

40

56%

22%

MMA

120

75

23

63%

19%

Baseball

183

18

33

10%

18%

Tennis

165

139

13

84%

8%

Soccer

110

95

8

86%

7%

Basketball is the biggest drain on our eyeballs when it comes to stuffing games with commercials, with almost the same amount of time spent watching ads as actually watching the sport (32% of the time watching ads vs. 36% watching the game).  

While watching basketball, fans are bombarded with ads from all angles - on the court, on digital screens, on the sidelines, the arena names themselves, ads on the hoops, never mind the actual ad breaks. Some networks even run ads taking up a large proportion of the screen during free throws.

Football is the sport with the second highest time spent watching ads vs the game. Often commented on, is how the number of ads really disrupts the flow of the game. With just under a third (31%) of time spent watching ads whilst watching a game of football, it’s no wonder fans aren’t happy, with multiple Reddit threads showcasing the want for a reduction in commercials. 

We have also noticed a big increase in the number of gambling commercials during NFL games, with the top sportsbooks advertising their latest football betting promotions in order to gain market share in this booming market.

Baseball is the only sport where you spend more time watching the ads than watching the action. With 18% of time spent during a baseball game being forced to watch advertisements, where in the average 183-minute game, only 18 minutes of action is actually seen, amounting to a meagre 10% of time spent watching the players do their thing.

The sport with the least amount of ads is soccer, with 86% of the time spent watching the game actually being played. The game consisting of two 45-minute halves with no interruptions means fans are only forced to spend 7% of their time watching commercials during the halftime break. 

Comparing the time spent watching commercials for different sports

How Many Ads Do We Have to Watch in Our Lifetimes?

Sport

Games in a season

Minutes of Ads in a game

Ads minutes watched in a season

Ads minutes watched over a lifetime

Ads in Days over a lifetime

Baseball

162

32.5

5265

315,900

219

Basketball

82

43.5

3567

214,020

149

Hockey

82

30

2460

147,600

103

Tennis

112

13

1456

87,360

61

Football

17

60

1020

61,200

43

MMA

42

22.5

945

56,700

39

Wrestling

12

40

480

28,800

20

Soccer

34

7.5

255

15,300

11

As we sit there, watching our fourth commercial break of the game, we often think to ourselves “how much of my life has been wasted watching this?”

It's a question that is hard to answer precisely, as it depends on the sport, how many games per season are watched, and what amount of time those ads take up during each game. Luckily, we’ve put our heads together to construct an estimate for exactly how much time we lose to advertisements over our lifetimes following each of our favourite sports.

For the sake of fairness, we’ve called a “lifetime” sixty years, so ad minutes watched in a season is multiplied by 60 to give an estimated figure. If you’ve religiously followed baseball all your life, you’ve likely wasted 219 days of your life watching commercials… sorry. 

You heard us right, if you watch all 162 games in a baseball season, at an average of 32 minutes of ads per game, you’re looking at over 5000 minutes of commercials watched over the course of a season. Multiply that by 60 years and it comes to 315,900 minutes, otherwise known as 219 days. That’s 60% of a year lost to commercials. 

Soccer is the winner in this category yet again, with soccer-mad fans only losing a sum total of 11 days of the course of a sixty-year period. Still, that’s the time of an extended getaway you’ve spent with your eyes glued to the screen being sold something. But better than 219 days, we suppose.

Overall, the average sports fan loses 80 days of their lives to advertising over a lifetime, or 115,860 minutes to be precise. 

The amount of time sports fans spend watching commercials over time

While it's also important to recognise that these adverts help fund the sport and keep them running, it's a give-and-take scenario. Which, albeit, has felt a lot more take than give on the side of commercials. One thing is for sure, though, you can expect to spend a lot of time watching ads if your chosen sport is baseball!

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