A quarter in football lasts a total of fifteen minutes on the game clock. In real-time a quarter of NFL football is roughly forty-four minutes long.
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 and 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 twelve 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 sixteen minutes of breaks that occur between quarters you get an average game time of two hours and fifty-six minutes.
Dividing that amount of game time into four quarters gives you 44 minutes.
This means that in football an average quarter takes fourty four minutes and 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 the length of a quarter
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 a 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 have been very few in the first quarter for example be sure to expect a longer 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 the 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 replays. Oftentimes referees are given time to take another look at a play that has occurred.
This gives the officials a chance to watch a slow motion replay in order to make the correct call. This time spent reviewing plays occurs when the clock is stopped meaning that it is going to extend the length of the quarter
Another reason quarters can be extended is due to 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.
How long is a quarter of college football?
The length of college football and NFL football games are slightly different. NFL games are going to be a little bit shorter than college football games which means each quarter is going to be shorter as well.
A college football game lasts an average of three hours and twenty-four minutes. These games have a half time of twenty minutes as well as four more minutes of breaks between the other quarters.
To understand the length of each quarter we must take away the time of these breaks. This brings us to a game time of exactly three hours.
Three hours divided by four quarters means a quarter of college football takes an average of forty-five minutes.
Keep in mind the second quarter and the fourth quarter are likely going to be a bit longer than the first and the third quarter. This is because the second and fourth quarters feature the two minutes warning.
Quarters that end a half also tend to be longer as this is where teams are more likely to use timeouts and conserve time on the game clock.