Millennials have a shorter attention span than that of goldfish — which is nine seconds — and the NBA apparently is keenly aware of that fact.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is, according to WFAA-TV, working to figure out how to cater to millennial viewers, who, on average, have an eight-second attention span, according to a 2015 study by Microsoft, because they find it “difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli.”
The biggest detractor for young viewers comes late in the game, when multiple timeouts can stretch the final 30 seconds into 10 minutes or more. During a press conference last week, Silver said the NBA is tracking the end of games “very closely,” adding that the league’s committee plans to take a “fresh look” at game length at the end of the season.
“It’s something that I know all of sports are looking at right now, and that is the format of the game and the length of time it takes to play the game,” he said. “Obviously people, particularly millennials, have increasingly short attention spans, so it’s something as a business we need to pay attention to. … When the last few minutes of the game take an extraordinary amount of time, sometimes it’s incredibly interesting for fans, other times it’s not.”
Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said the NBA should eliminate replays in order to shorten the game. He told MLive over the weekend that viewers “really don’t care” what happens in the first part of the game, anyway:
“We really don’t care happens the first 46 minutes, but we want to get every call right [in the final two],” Van Gundy said. “Actually, we don’t even care if we get every call right in the last two minutes — we pick and choose the calls we want to get right in the last two minutes. So, we end up in replay.
“We want to get all the out-of-bounds calls right in the last two minutes. Surprisingly, the most important thing is, we don’t care about getting foul calls right in the last two minutes. But, we’ve got to get out-of-bounds and goaltending and that stuff right.”
However, it is worth noting that, as NBC Sports’ Dane Carbaugh pointed out, replays only add around 74 seconds to each game.
In the end, it’s going to come down to which part of the audience the NBA wants to cater to — the diehard fans who make up their core and are largely OK with the current setup or more casual viewers who may be turned off by the length of games.