Sunday, January 17, 2010

Value Adding on First and Ten

Would you like another illustration of Value-Added vs Non-Value-Added time?  Do you like football?  Do you make fun of people who like football?
If yes to any of the above, this is for you.
In the Friday, January 15 edition of the Wall Street Journal, David Biderman wrote a most entertaining article "11 Minutes of Action" . In short, a group of WSJ folks timed, frame by frame, broadcasts of four late-season National Football League games.  They measured a mere 11 minutes of actual action in each broadcast. There was 174 minutes of non-action!  Yes, that means only 11 of a total of 185 minutes actually showed the ball in play...5.9%. 
And what filled up the rest of the time??  A full hour of the broadcast was commercials.  74 minutes showed players standing around.  Surprisingly to me, only 17 minutes showed replays...yet even that was 6 minutes more than the actual live action. 
What is the cost for filling all the rest of the time?  According to the article, the networks employ 80-200 people for each game, flowing the broadcast through seven (yep, seven!) production trucks.  Total production cost??  $150,000 to $250,000 per game. 
As we have learned since Rother and Shook wrote Learning to See, it is crucial for us to measure how much time a production process adds value to our products, actually modifying and transforming raw materials into something for which the customer is willing to pay.  And, when we make this measurement, we are invariably shocked at just how little time adds value.  In fact, by most manufacturing measures, a football broadcast adding value 5.9% of the time is way above average.  Often, the proportion is measured in fractions of a percentage point. 
Measure we must, however.  And assess the cost of the non-value added time.  If the non-value added time triggers costs (read:  lots of fancy graphics to fill the dead time between plays), we'd better know those costs. 
And don't laugh too hard at the NFL.  As I was chuckling while reading this article for the first time, my wife wryly asked me just how I would feel had the WSJ done a similar study of my beloved sport of baseball.  Ouch. 
Keep on learning.  Even if it is third and long. 


Mark Graban said...

Great minds think alike, I also blogged about this today:

And got some good discussion.

Chet Frame said...

Great post, Joe. I have adopted the tactic of a good friend who dials in about five minutes before the end of a game. You see the replays of all of the scores and good plays in those last few minutes and you cut closer to the value. We don't use this tactic with baseball as it is a relaxing pastime.

Dan Markovitz said...

As much as I love watching the NY Jets, the NVA time is excruciating. The football fan's best friend? TiVO.

GLB said...

With the advent of the DVR, and the additional demands on my time, I have taken to recording football games and watching them later in the day, when the kids are in bed and I can drink a beer without worrying about staying awake. The "skip forward" function on the remote control allows the viewer to skip forward through 30-sec commercials. With the NFL 40-sec continuous clock or the NCAA 25-sec clock, the 30 sec interval is perfect for seeing the play (about five sec) and then skipping the replays, huddle, etc. I watched the Iowa Hawkeyes' Orange Bowl victory in approx. 1 hr 15 min!

Now, for baseball, I don't think there is any hope. At least Rick Sutcliffe is not pitching for the Cubs anymore!


Steve Halpin said...

Hi Joe,

I was watching our weekly highlights of the English Premiership soccer this weekend thinking exactly the same thing! They show some highlights, then we have interviews followed by 'expert' panel discussion which analyses the replays. Then, of course, it's time for commercials. We tend to watch most of these programmes on the hard-drive recorder starting later than the scheduled start so that we can fast forward through the 'waste'!!