Horizontal 100% stacked bar chart of game action, nonaction and commercials for broadcasts of NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA and EPL games

Game Action in Sports Broadcasts

The ball is in play, 10% or less of the time in NFL and MLB broadcasts. In contrast, game action, that is the time the ball or puck is in play, accounts for 50% of the time in EPL (soccer) broadcasts, as shown in the horizontal 100% stacked bar chart on the left. The rest of the time is divided among nonaction (e.g., commentary game stoppage) and commercials. The latter take up about 1/4 of all NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA broadcasts and 10% of EPL broadcasts.

In addition, baseball and football broadcasts are much longer than EPL broadcasts, as shown in the horizontal stacked bar chart on the right. NHL and NBA broadcasts fall closer to EPL. They are both a bit longer on average and have a lower percentage of game action than EPL. Both are significantly shorter and have a higher percentage of game action than NFL and MLB broadcasts. Data are from University of Texas Austin Sports Analytics Course and reported in 538.

Game Action and Broadcast Length in a Horizontal 100% Stacked Bar Chart and a Stacked Bar Chart

Horizontal 100% stacked bar chart of game action, nonaction and commercials for broadcasts of NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA and EPL games

How I Made these Game Action Bar Charts 

Here is the game action data that I used to create the two charts:

Horizontal 100% stacked bar chart of game action, nonaction and commercials for broadcasts of NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA and EPL games

Note that the same data sheet is used to make the 100% stacked bar chart on the left and the stacked bar chart on the right.

Here's how I made the horizontal 100% stacked bar chart on the left:

  • create a 100% stacked bar chart in PowerPoint
  • close the chart and shrink the chart container horizontally to make room for the stacked bar chart on the right
  • type the game action data as in the sample data above, including the information in parentheses as this will show in the legend
  • right-click on cell A5 in the datasheet to hide the data row containing average broadcast time
  • show labels in all segments and show values and percentages in the labels
  • format the segment labels to include Min. as a suffix
  • add the legend and show it at the bottom of the chart
  • hide the y axis and the x axis and adjust the bar gaps to make the bars wider
  • adjust the internal chart margins to fill the chart area horizontally
  • change the series colors

I then closed the chart, copied it, and shrunk the copied chart horizontally to fit to the right of the first chart. Open this new chart, change its type to stacked bar and hide all series except average broadcast time. Show the bar totals with Min as a suffix and adjust the series color.

Take This Chart and Make It Your Own

Download this chart and edit it using Mekko Graphics. See more bar charts in our chart gallery. Here are some other charts that may be of interest: