A quarter in football lasts a total of fifteen minutes on the game clock. But since there are many other factors that stop the game clock in football a quarter is going to last more than fifteen minutes in real-time.
In the game of football, there are four quarters, each of which lasts fifteen minutes of game time. The average NFL game lasts three hours twelve minutes which means a football game is a lot longer than the four fifteen-minute quarters of game time.
If you take away halftime which takes seventeen minutes as well as the two, two-minute breaks given between the first and third quarter you can get a more accurate view of how long each quarter takes in real-time.
After taking away these twenty-one minutes of breaks that occur between quarters you get an average game time of two hours and fifty-one minutes.
Dividing that amount of game time into four quarters gives you 42 minutes and fourty five seconds.
This means that in football an average quarter takes fourty two minutes and fourty five seconds in real time.
Though it is important to remember this can only be seen as an average as there are several factors that can affect how long a specific quarter of football may last.
Main Factors In Quarter Length
When trying to determine how long a quarter of football is going to last it is important to take commercial breaks into account.
In each half of football, there will be a mandatory ten commercial breaks taken. One commercial break will occur between the two quarters and one will occur immediately following the two-minute warning.
The other eight commercial breaks will be divided up throughout the two quarters of gameplay. You will also notice that when a team is driving down the field the game will not pause to go to commercial break.
On some occasions, this results in a large number of commercial breaks remaining with only one quarter left in the half. This is why you will often see a sequence of commercial breaks occur late in a half.
Keep an eye on how many commercial breaks have occurred when watching a football game. If there has been very few in the first quarter for example be sure to expect a long second quarter.
In Game Situation
Another factor that can affect the length of a football quarter is the situation that is happening in the game.
As we stated earlier the length of a quarter in football is based on the game clock. In football depending on what happened in the previous play, the game clock can be stopped or continue running.
For example, if a player travels out of bounds with ball in the final five minutes of the second half the clock will be stopped. Oftentimes teams will take advantage of these rules and continually stop the clock in order to extend the half.
If this sort of in-game situation is occurring you can expect your quarters to last for much longer. Other factors such as intentionally kneeling the ball would result in shorter quarters as they run out the clock.
Check out our guide to knowing when the clock stops in football to get a full understanding.
Injuries, Replays, Streakers, etc…
Additionally, since football is a live sport played in front of a ton of fans there are plenty of other factors that could unexpectedly lead to longer quarters in football.
One example of this occurs during injuries. Since football is such a physical sport, injuries occur almost every game.
Sometimes these injuries are going to require medical attention. If an injury occurred on the field then this often means the game has to be stopped while the trainers tend to the injured players. Depending on the extent of the injury this can take up a noticeable amount of time.