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How Long is Halftime in the NFL? How Does It Compare to the NBA, NHL, NCAA, and MLS?

Snehith Vemuri
|Fri Sep 10 2021


Halftime is a crucial interval for NFL players and fans and often a tipping point in important games. So, how long is halftime in the NFL and how does it compare to other sports?

How Long is NFL Halftime?

Halftime is 12 minutes long for all NFL regular season games. Pre-1990, the break was actually 15 minutes but it has since been cut by 3 minutes.

One possible reason for this could be the already excessive commercial interruptions. Breaks between quarters, breaks between possessions, and timeouts mean that an hour of game time takes around 3 hours broadcast time.

For the Super Bowl, the halftime show takes around half an hour. Popular music artists are invited to put on a concert for the fans. Last season, The Weeknd put on a memorable show for the 22,000 fans who eventually saw the Bucs lift the Lombardi at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay.

Why is there a halftime?

Halftime is a welcome and necessary intermission for players, coaches and fans. Players can catch their breath and receive medical attention.

Coaches normally use the time to make adjustments to their game plan and motivate their team. If a team is down at half, the break can prove to be a huge momentum shifter for them.

Perhaps the most serious of all people at halftime are the fans checking on their fantasy teams at home. Others simply get a bathroom break and grab some food.

Halftime also has some technical implications. The teams switch sides to cancel the effects of elements like wind and incline. Moreover, the team which received the ball to start the game will have to kick it to begin the third quarter.

Also read: NFL Referee Salary: How Much Do NFL Refs Make In The 2021 Season?

How does this compare to other sports and leagues?

  • NCAA Football: 20 minutes
  • NCAA Basketball: 20 minutes
  • NBA: 15 minutes
  • NHL: Two 17 minute breaks between periods
  • MLS: 15 minutes

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