How Long is NFL Halftime?

How long does halftime last during an NFL game? Well, it depends on the game, as some halftime shows go all out for the fans.

How Long is NFL Halftime?
Wade McElwain

Written by: Wade McElwain

(Senior Sports Writer)

Fact checked by: Umaima Saeed

(Sports Writer)

Last updated: 2023-11-14

How Long is NFL Halftime? Icon

In the thrilling world of American football, every fan eagerly anticipates the halftime show. It's the moment when the players take a break, the coaches strategise, and the audience gets a chance to be entertained. But have you ever wondered just how long NFL halftime is?  And does Rihanna perform at all of them? 

The Length of NFL Halftime

NFL halftime is known for being a spectacle, but it doesn't last as long as some might think. In fact, the standard duration for halftime in an NFL game is 12 minutes. This brief intermission is carefully calculated to allow teams to regroup, make adjustments, and ensure that the overall game experience is both exciting and efficient.
When you actually think about, an NFL game is made up of 4 x 15 minute quarters, for a 60 minute game, so 12 minutes makes sense in a bigger picture.  Of course an NFL game is supposed to be played in 60 minutes, but it actually takes closer to 3 hours. 

The Purpose of the Halftime Break

While 12 minutes might seem like a short time, it serves a crucial purpose in the game. Halftime is not only a break for the players to rest and rehydrate, but it also allows coaches to analyse the first half, discuss strategies, and make any necessary adjustments. This strategic planning during halftime can be the key to turning the tide of a game.
Motivation is also a big part of half-time, as it allows veteran players the chance to pump-up their teammates, and get them excited about the second-half.  Another major reason for a half-time, toilet breaks, which are much needed. 

Entertainment Extravaganza

Although the primary focus during halftime is on the teams and their strategies, the NFL halftime show has become a spectacle in itself. While the Super Bowl is known for its star-studded line-ups, a regular season NFL half time show is usually a local act, or novelty entertainer used to break up the monotony.  Regular season half-times are generally a chance for fans to queue for the toilets, or for over-priced draft beer. 

Impact on Television Broadcasts

The carefully timed halftime break also plays a significant role in the television broadcast of NFL games. Broadcasters use this time to air commercials, analyse the first half, and provide additional insights into the upcoming plays. This structured approach ensures that the viewing experience is engaging and well-paced for fans both in the stadium and at home.
 Fans at home also use half-time for toilet and beverage breaks, as well as a chance to ‘walk it off’ when your team is taking a beating. 

Exceptions to the Rule

While the standard halftime duration is 12 minutes, there can be exceptions. For example, during the Super Bowl, the halftime show is extended, often lasting around 30 minutes or more. This extended duration is designed to accommodate the elaborate performances and ensure that the halftime show lives up to its reputation as a major entertainment event.
Did you know that Super Bowl entertainers actually have to PAY to perform? It’s true.

There have been some legendary Super Bowl halftime shows from Tom Petty in 2008, Michael Jackson in 1993, and who could forget the unforgettable performance by Prince in 2007? 

So the next time you’re sitting around with 12 minutes to spare, think to yourself, ‘hey, I could be putting on an NFL half-time show right now.’

And if you have even more time, you could be choreographing the Super Bowl half-time show in your head! 
Dare to dream.

Wade McElwain

Wade McElwain

Wade McElwain is our Mr. NFL, a bona fide North American sports nut who knows about NBA, NHL, MLB, PGA plus MMA boxing and more. Originally from Canada, Wade is also an international award-winning stand-up comedian; host of numerous TV game shows; and a TV producer & writer. He also runs NFL in London-the largest NFL fan group in Europe, and has hosted NFL events at Wembley and around the world. Yes, he lives alone and does nothing but watch sports.

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