The Wall Street Journal broke down exactly how much game action there is in the average telecast. Want to guess? Not even close. Guess again. Nope, less.
Out of the typical 2 hours and 54 minutes of the average NFL broadcast, a whole 11 minutes actually feature live game action. So next time you want to call out soccer or baseball fans for following a sport where nothing happens, you might want to tend to your own garden.
The lion's share of camera time, about 75 minutes worth, is devoted to players standing around on the field. Getting up after a tackle. Jogging back to the line of scrimmage (loping if you're Randy Moss). Huddling up before the next play. When you watch football, this is what you're mostly watching.
An unsurprising second is commercial breaks, making up about an hour of the broadcast. This might sound high, but just think of all the score-commercial-kickoff-commercial sequences, and we're thankful it's only an hour.
Heck, even replays get a larger slice of the pie than actual game action; 17 minutes or so. For every live play, expect the replays to last half as much again.
Isos on coaches get half as much airtime as gameplay; shots of players on the sideline get roughly a third; closeups on the referee about a fourth.
And, from the good things/bad things department, the two elements that get the least TV time? Sideline reporters and cheerleaders.
It's a fascinating study, and I urge you to read the whole thing, but I can't imagine a better advertisement for DVR.
UPDATE: I'm informed Wired did a simplfied, informal version of this study last year.
11 Minutes of Action [WSJ]