If you notice more split-screens and fewer commercial breaks on NFL broadcasts this coming season, credit the fans who served as football’s lab rats.
Last fall, just as TV ratings went into a tailspin, the National Football League (NFL) invited fans into a lab designed like a living room. Technicians asked them to watch games, tracking their eye movement, heart rates and skin response. They saw different ad formats, including split screens with commercials on one side and the field on the other.
Tod Leiweke, the NFL’s chief operating officer, said, “We’re going into people’s homes and replicating the game experience and trying to watch everything from what their eyes are following to what their behavior is during commercials breaks.”
The tests — which were planned prior to last season and were the most extensive ever by the league — are contributing to big changes in how games will be broadcast when the regular season starts.
One big change is a cut in the number of commercial breaks — to four per quarter from five. They’ll be longer so the networks can still sell the same number of commercials but less frequent. There will be 30 percent fewer promotional messages.
Gerry Smith. NFL Puts Fans in Lab to See What Works as Football Seeks Answers. Bloomberg.