The Super Bowl is a cultural touchstone in the United States, watched by hundreds of millions of people. For many, it's a fun annual tradition. But for the non-football fan, hanging out at a Super Bowl party can drag on forever.
If you're among those simply waiting for the matchup between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers to be over, it should take about three hours and 35 minutes for the experience to pass, according to a Bloomberg report from 2012. Using Nielsen data, it looked at Super Bowl broadcasts across two decades and found that to be the average broadcast time. Since the 2016 Super Bowl is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. EST kickoff, the game should wrap up around 10:05 p.m. if the trend holds true.
A football game is supposed to be 60 minutes of play broken into four 15-minute quarters. The average NFL game takes three hours and 12 minutes to complete, however, with just 11 minutes of real football action. The average broadcast has 20 commercial breaks and more than 100 total ads that make up about one-third of the game time.
The Super Bowl broadcast is especially long because of the prolonged halftime festivities. Coldplay and Beyoncé are scheduled to perform this year, with cameos by other acts also rumored. The halftime show runs about 30 minutes, which is 18 more minutes than the time typically allotted for the mid-game break.
Other factors slow down football games. There are short breaks between each quarter, and the game clock stops with two minutes remaining in the second and fourth quarters. Incomplete passes stop the game clock, as well, as does a ball-carrier running out of bounds. Each team is also give three timeouts per half, which stop the clock for two minutes apiece. There are also television timeouts to allow for commercials that occur at pre-determined times or during natural breaks in play. All of which goes to show, if you don't like football, Super Bowl Sunday can be a long day.