You might be curious about the length of a football game if you’re watching it for the first time. What is the length of a football game?

An NFL football game typically lasts just over three hours. The longest average length game was in 2015, when it lasted 3 hours and 9 mins.

The average college football game can last longer than NFL games. A college game typically lasts less than 3 1/2 hours.

You can expect a shorter game length if you’re attending a youth or high school football game.

Level Avg. Game Length
NFL 3+ hours
NCAA 3.5 hours
High School 2-2.5 hours
Youth 1-1.5 hours

A football game is divided into four quarters. The length of each quarter will vary depending upon the level of football. Halftime takes place between the 2nd quarter and 3rd quarters. The pre-game festivities, such as the coin toss and national anthem, take place just before the kickoff. They last approximately 10 minutes.

NFL Game Length

The NFL is America’s most beloved sport. Fans can host watch parties with their friends and family, or buy tickets to go to the game and tailgate prior. You might be curious about how long the game will last if you’re going to a game or hosting one.

How Many NFL Games Are There?

An NFL game should last slightly more than 3 hours. As we mentioned earlier, the longest NFL game average in recent years was 3 hours 9 minutes in 2015.

An NFL game has 4 quarters. There is a halftime in between the 2 nd quarters and the 3 rdquarters.

How long is an NFL Quarter?

Quarters in NFL are played for 15 minutes. The average time it takes for a quarter to play is about 40 minutes.

How long is an NFL Halftime?

As of 2017, halftime in the NFL is 13 minutes and 30 seconds. Halftime can be extended to close to 30 minutes during Super Bowl, when live music acts may drag the halftime out.

The NFL has made halftime a priority in recent years, as part of its commitment to fans to keep the game exciting and fast.

How Long Does an NFL Game Take to Play on TV?

NFL games on TV typically last between 3 hours, 15 minutes and 3 hours, 30 minutes. Every game is different.

NFL games usually last slightly more than 3 hours. A broadcast of the NFL will typically have a brief introduction in which the broadcasters discuss the game, the important players, and any unusual circumstances. After the introduction, the broadcast will include a commercial before the first kickoff.

A small post-game segment may also be included on the broadcast. This might include a brief recap of the game by the broadcasters, followed by an interview with a player or coach on the field.

Add the pre- and postgame TV extras to the average length for an NFL game (a little over 3 hours), and the broadcast length is almost 3 hours and 15 mins.

What is the Average Time for an NFL Game In Person?

The average time it takes to watch an NFL game is slightly more than 3 hours. This includes kickoff and the end of regulation. If you are interested in being in the stands for the player introductions, national anthem and coin toss before kickoff, your time in stadium should be approximately 3 hours and 15 mins.

This time period is not perfect and there are many exceptions. Every game is different. We will discuss in the next section what can slow down NFL games so they last longer.

It’s important to keep in mind that attending a live game can add some time. It may take you 15-30 minutes to park and walk into the stadium. It may take 10-15 minutes to find your seat and go to the concession stand. After the game, it may take 10-15 minutes to walk to your car. Attending an NFL game without a tailgate can easily turn into 4-6 hours.

What Factors Cause NFL Games to Slow Down?

The length of an NFL game can vary greatly. The length of a game can be affected by many factors, including:

  • Penalties
  • Style Of Play
  • Weather
  • Replay Review
  • Game Flow
  • Broadcast

Let’s take a look at each one in detail and see how they impact the game’s length.


NFL games are slowed down by penalties. This is because the time it takes for the referees convene and announce the call can slow down the game. We have already mentioned that 2015 was the most recent year with the longest average length of a game. It took 3 hours 9 minutes for the referees to convene and announce the call. 2015 has the highest average number of penalties per game.

The NFL averaged 17.6 penalties per match in 2015 Comparatively, the average penalty in the NFL was 16.9 in 2014 and 16.6 in 2016. The average length of games in both 2014 and 2016 was at least two minutes shorter than 2015,

Referees meet to discuss the penalty flag. The penalty is announced to the crowd by the head referee, who then transfers the call to him via his microphone. The penalty is then announced to the stadium crowd. This can take up to a minute or more.

Sometimes, the referees may have different opinions or make conflicting calls. Sometimes, there are two penalties for the same play that referees have to sort out. When coaches argue or request explanations, they can slow down the penalty procedure.

While penalties are essential to ensure games are played according to rules, too many penalties can disrupt game flow and cause fan frustration. Both referees as well as players work together to minimize penalties and keep the game flowing smoothly for fans. This is not an easy task.

Style Of Play

The games that have teams that prefer to pass the ball to offense will usually last longer than those that have teams that run the offense. The game clock ends on an incomplete pass.

Games with more total passes will have more game-clock stops than games that have a lot more running plays. This will ultimately lead to a longer game.

Also, pace of play is a key factor. Some teams prefer to let the play clock run down before snapping the ball, while others prefer to go fast and snap the ball as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to tire the defense. Teams that allow the play clock to run out before snapping the ball can play longer games.


Sometimes, games may experience an in-game delay because of an imminent weather danger. Lightning being near the stadium is usually responsible for delays like these.

The weather can also reduce the game’s length by changing the play style to a heavier run attack. Extreme snow and rain storms can make it difficult to throw the ball. This will force teams to run the ball more often.

As we have discussed, a run-heavy offensive approach results in fewer game-clock stops and reduces the game’s length.

Replay Review

Modern football has a lot to offer in the way of replay reviews. If a coach believes that a referee made an error, instant replay can be used to review the call. In 1999, the NFL adopted replay review.

Replay reviews have made the sport more enjoyable and ensured that the right call was made. Before 1999 instant replay was not possible. Game play continued without any delay after a call was made.

Game Flow

An intensely contested football match will usually last for longer than an average game. Timeouts are used to stop the clock and preserve the game clock if the score is very close. If they have the ball on offense, they will either spike the ball or get out of bounds to stop the clock. These types of games can drag on until the end, and can easily consume an additional 30 minutes before the game ends.

This can happen before the half. To preserve the clock, a team that is trying to score will use its timeouts. This doesn’t happen every time. It depends on how close the team is to scoring and if the coach enjoys the matchup between his offense and the opposing defense.

Broadcast Times

Primetime stand-alone primetime games (like Sunday night, Thursday, and Sunday night) have a better chance of lasting longer than regular Sunday NFL games. There may be extra festivities before the game for primetime games. Halftime entertainment and a jersey retirement ceremony may also be available.

This is evident in the Super Bowl, with its longer halftime and more commercial breaks.

While primetime regular-season games may have extra time, the overall game length difference will be negligible.

NFL Actions to Increase the Pace of Game

The NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that he doesn’t think that NFL games should be drastically shortened but that the league must continue to “take down time out which is not entertaining”.

In recent years, the NFL has simplified its in-game commercial structure to make it more appealing to TV viewers. This has resulted in fewer commercial breaks. To speed up the transition from the extra point to the kickoff, they have also started regulating the time that passes after the extra point.

The NFL continues to evaluate replay to find better ways to speed it up and make it more efficient. Although replay is an integral part of modern sports it has one drawback: It can disrupt game flow and depress the energy of a crowd.


College Football Game Duration

College Football has a passionate following. Students and alumni can enjoy Saturdays at the games with their friends and family.

How long can a college football NCAA match last if you host a party or go to the game?

How Long Does a College Football Game Take?

A college football match is usually less than three and a quarter hours long. There are 60 minutes of action.

The 2016 average FBS college football match lasted 3 hours, 24 minutes more than the 2016 NFL game which lasted 3 hours, 7 minutes .

This is a concern for some college football fans. Individual conferences have taken steps to address this issue.

How many quarters are there in college football?

The college football game is divided into four quarters, with quarters two and three being separated by a break. These characteristics are shared with the NFL’s college football, which has 60 minutes of gameplay divided into four quarters each with a 15-minute break. Quarters two and three are separated by a halftime.

How long is a college football quarter?

A college football quarter lasts 15 minutes. An average college football quarter takes slightly more than 45 minutes in real-time.

How Long Does a College Football Game Last on TV?

A college football game takes less than three and a quarter hours. In most cases, you will get an additional five minutes of introduction if you are watching the broadcast on television. You may also have the opportunity to interview players or coaches after the game.

An average TV broadcast will last just over three and a quarter hours. This varies greatly depending on the individual game. Some games can last more than four hours.

How long is college football halftime?

The college football halftime lasts 20 minutes. College football has made it a priority to ensure that halftimes do not exceed 20 minutes in order to prevent the games from becoming too long.

Why does college football last longer than the NFL?

There are many reasons college football games last longer than NFL games.

First Downs In college football, the game clock stops when a player gains a first down. The referee will then set the ball. First downs in the NFL do not stop the game clock. This is why college football games last on average longer than NFL.

Halftime – The college football halftime lasts 20 minutes, whereas the NFL’s is just 13 minutes and 30 seconds. This is almost 7 minutes more college football than the NFL’s halftime.

Higher Scoring College football scores a lot more than the NFL. Scores that are higher equal more points (untimed) and more kickoffs (potentially not timed down). There may also be more commercial breaks. This prolongs the game.

How Long Does a High School Football Match Take?

High school football games usually last two to three hours. Each quarter lasts 12 minutes and there is a half-time between each quarter.

Massachusetts uses 11-minute quarters for regular season games and 10-minute quarters for playoffs. They are the only exception to the 12-minute quarter length.

It is difficult to determine the average length of a high-school football game. There are many types of high school football in America. Each class has a different style of play and talent. A high school football game will generally be shorter than an NFL or college game.

You should be ready for some exceptions if you go to a high school football game. While the average length of a game is between two and two-and-a-half hours, many states have mercy rules that may make the game shorter.

What is a Mercy Rule?

High school football uses a mercy rule when a predetermined score margin is reached at halftime, or at any time in the game thereafter (e.g. one team is ahead 63-0 at quartertime).

This will usually result in either the game being ended at this point or the game continuing with a game clock that never stops, to try and end the game faster. Mercy rules can reduce the length of a game by reducing its duration. There are currently 36 states that have high school football with some form of mercy rule.

How long is a high school football halftime?

Halftimes for high school football usually last between 10 and 20 minutes. The length of the halftime will vary by state. This is because high school football games may not be as formal as those played in college football or the NFL.

When Do High School Football Games Begin?

High school football games start at 7 p.m. local time. They almost always take place on Friday nights.

What is the length of a Junior Varsity Football game?

Because they typically have 10-minute quarters, 10-minute halftimes, and a 10-minute game break, the Junior Varsity football game is shorter than varsity football. It will vary from one state to the next. A junior varsity game will typically last two hours or less.

How Long Does a Youth Football Game Take?

A youth football game should last at least an hour. They typically consist of four quarters that are each 8 minutes long, separated by a 10-minute break. Advanced youth leagues may have 10-minute quarters. The quarters are usually broken up by a short intermission that can last for a minute or so.

There are many rules that differ between youth leagues. Some leagues have a mercy rule, while others don’t. The majority of youth leagues allow each team to take three timeouts per halves.

How long is a Canadian Football League game?

Canadian Football Games last approximately three hours. There are four quarters of 15 minutes each with a half-hour. Canadian Football doesn’t use a running clock so the game flow is very similar to an NFL game. However, there are some differences.

How Long is an Arena Football Game?

The average duration of an arena football game is approximately 2 hours. Each quarter is 15 minutes long and each half is 15 minutes. Because they are modified running games, they don’t last as long as NFL ones. This is because the clock only stops in certain circumstances like player injuries, timeouts, or changes of possession. Only the final minute of the second and fourth quarters are exceptions to the regular football clock management rules.