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NFL pleased that most Week One games were under three hours

The NFL is trying to speed up the pace of play, and the early returns are promising.

On a league conference call today, the NFL touted the fact that 10 of the 15 games played in Week One were finished in less than three hours, the first time since Week 17 of 2009 that that many games were completed in less than three hours.

The league says it has accomplished that in part by reducing the number of commercial breaks from five to four in each quarter. The league and its network TV partners are also experimenting with the “double box” commercial breaks in which viewers can see a commercial on one side of the screen and a replay on the other side. The league said that approach got good feedback from the networks, the advertisers and the fans.

Still, shorter games are not the only priority — exciting games are more important, and the league said the Patriots-Chiefs opener was an example of a compelling game that lasted nearly three and a half hours.