Addition of MLB Pitch Clock Leaves NFL in a Class All Its Own

With games that last more than three hours, the NFL is now an outlier

The NFL logo on the field prior to Super Bowl LVII.
Still, the sport remains extremely popular in the United States
Cooper Neill/Getty

While Major League Baseball’s introduction of a pitch clock this season certainly had baseball purists seeing red, it has been a great addition for those who have better things to do than watch grown men spit and adjust themselves for three hours, or more, a day. Thanks to the clock making its way to the show, average game time in MLB has fallen from 3:06 last year and 3:11 in 2021 to just 2:39 this year as of this writing, according to Baseball Reference. The reduction in game length has been huge for pro baseball, as attendance at ballparks and viewership on television is up, as is scoring and fan interest. The last time games in MLB averaged under three hours was 2011 (2:56), and the last time they were as short as they are now was 1984 when they were also a 2:39 average.

The USFL Has Some Rules the NFL Might Want to Steal
The spring league is back with new tweaks the NFL could consider

MLB chopping nearly half an hour off its average game length leaves the NFL as the only pro league out of America’s core four with games that typically last more than three hours from start to finish. With an average game time of 3:02 last season, the NFL requires a significantly longer time commitment than MLB, the NBA (2:16) or NHL (2:29). Interestingly, the NFL’s game length last season was actually the league’s shortest since 1993 (3:00), according to Axios.

Unlike with MLB, longer games have clearly not damaged the NFL’s popularity, as pro football is consistently the highest-rated show on television and this past season’s Super Bowl was the most-watched TV program of all time. Also a hit with viewers, college football asks fans to commit to games for an average of three hours and 22 minutes, an increase of four minutes from just five years ago, per Sports Illustrated.

Though the XFL and the USFL — spring football leagues that began play this season following the Super Bowl — have not been hits with the general public, the fact that tthey’ve generated enough interest and financial backing to even exist is evidence of how large the demand for football is in the United States. The NFL knows this, which is why this year’s schedule, which will be announced on Thursday evening, is expected to include multiple games on Christmas, a Monday night tripleheader and a post-Thanksgiving game on Black Friday.

Win the Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix Experience

Want the F1 experience of a lifetime? Here’s your chance to win tickets to see Turn 18 Grandstand, one of Ultimate Formula 1® Miami Grand Prix’s most premier grandstands!