Why Do Basketball Games Start At Weird Times?

Editorial credit: Francesc Juan / Shutterstock.com

Millions of people view basketball all across the world. It is an exciting sport that requires a lot of talent and skill, so it attracts a lot of viewers. However, you might have noticed that basketball games start at weird times, and today I want to answer why it happens. So let’s get into it.

The reason basketball starts at weird times is because of your time zone. A game might not be played at an odd time, but because you may live three hours ahead of where it’s being played, it could seem so. Also, it never starts on the hour because it takes around ten minutes for the game to start.

It can be frustrating when you have to watch your favorite sport at 22:00, knowing full well that there is a high chance you will fall asleep. But, on the other hand, it might start early, and thus you may miss it because you are at work or school. So, as frustrating as it can be, today I want to explain in detail why.

Why do Some basketball Games Start So Late?

There are two main reasons why basketball games start so late; let’s take a look and explain the reasons in detail.

Different Time Zones

It is important to remember that the time zone difference between the East Coast and the West Coast is 3 hours. So if it is 17:00 on the West Coast, it would be 20:00 in New York, Boston, and so on.

Most basketball games start at 19:00; we will discuss why further down. However, if it begins at 19:00 in California, the time in New York or on the East Coast will be around 22:00. See, the game is not starting late; it is only late in your time zone.

It gets even more complicated for overseas viewers. For example, if the game starts at 19:00 in California on the 23rd of November, people in the UK will be watching it at 3:00 AM on the 24th of November because they are 8 hours ahead.

Work Or School

You may ask why don’t they start the games earlier when they are playing California so that everybody can watch it at a reasonable time; however, most people go to work or school.

So to capture as large of an audience as possible, games are played and broadcast at a time when most people would be sitting at home watching TV, perhaps while eating dinner.

If games are to be played at 2:00 PM on a Friday, there is a high chance that many people will miss the game, and broadcasters will lose out on ad revenue.  

Why Do Some Basketball Games Start So Early?

Again, this has to do with time zones. However, this time it would mean that you are behind. For example, if the game is played in New York at 19:00, it would be at 16:00 in California.

Things can get tricky when people are behind the time zone because you can’t exactly take off from work just to watch the basketball game, so the NBA tries to find workarounds and solutions that suit most people.

Why Don’t Basketball Games Start On The Hour?

Most basketball games don’t start on the hour. Instead, basketball games typically start five to 15 minutes after the scheduled time. So, if the game was to begin at 19:00, it typically starts at 19:10. There are several reasons for this; let’s take a look at the most common:

  • Pre-game entertainment
  • Team and player introductions
  • TV advertisements

It’s almost like a little trick. See, a TV broadcaster will display that a game starts at 19:00, but they want to show you a few ads before it starts. But, of course, doing this allows them to charge more for the ad space, so it does make sense.

How Long Before A Basketball Game Should You Arrive?

We already discussed that one of the reasons basketball games tend to start relatively late is so that people have a chance to get home from work, but what if you are going to the game? How early should you get there?

Different people have different opinions on this. My recommendation is to get there around 45 minutes to an hour early. It is always better to be early, for your basketball game than to be late.

Arriving early gives you a few benefits. These include:

  • you don’t have to worry about traffic
  • you’ll have ample time to find parking without stressing
  • you might beat the queue to get your first round of snacks and drinks
  • finding your seats will be a lot easier, and the navigation won’t be as tricky

Alternatively, you could arrive 20 minutes before the game, but you might miss part of it because you are too busy finding parking, finding your seats, and getting snacks. It might take a bit too long, especially as the crowd starts pouring in.

Editorial credit: Albo / Shutterstock.com

How Long Is A Basketball Game?

Basketball games typically start later than most other sports. They also start at weird times. So, the game’s length can play a significant role in whether or not you find the time to watch the game. That said, let’s discuss what you can expect depending on what level the game is being played at:

  • High school basketball: Approximately two hours.
  • College basketball games: Approximately two hours and twenty minutes.
  • Pro basketball games: between one and a half hours to two hours.

The game itself is typically between 40 minutes and one hour. However, you also need to include the 15-minute halftime break and other things that could cause a delay, such as timeouts, fouls, and so on.

What To Do If You Are Too Late For A Basketball Game?

If you arrive late, you will still be allowed into the stadium. However, getting into your seats might be just as tricky as finding them because you will have to navigate around a packed crowd of people.

If you are running late to the basketball game, you should still go, especially considering the prices we pay for tickets.


Regarding the game not starting on the hour, it happens in many sports. Alternatively, some countries display the start time as ten minutes earlier so that the game can begin on the hour, and they still get to show ads. That said, I hope you now know why basketball games start at weird times.


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