It's oriented towards the TV audience, or more accurately, the TV advertisers. The idea is to create the maximum number of points in which to insert commercials for the minimum amount of actual playing of sport. I don't believe that I've ever watched a game, but I've seen bits of it while near a TV that someone else was watching. Personally I find it to be as interesting as watching paint dry.American Football. WTF is that all about?
I've just returned from the US and watched the Indiana Hoosiers v the Tennessee Volunteers game, at the Jacksonville Jaguars stadium. The game is split into 4 x 15 minute quarters, with a half time show. How the hell does it then take 3 hours to finish the game?
The average time the ball was in play for was about 3 seconds; then the fat wheezy boys needed a break and would swap teams - rinse and repeat for 15 (alleged) minutes then they'd scoot off the pitch for a pizza and some chips. There is no semblance of enjoyment to be had throughout - I'd rather watch re runs of Noel's House Party.
How this can be seen as a sport, let alone one enjoyed by millions, is beyond me. The only sweat evident was from the morbidly obese spectators that were shovelling lard into their mouths as fast as they could.
They play a somewhat similar version of it in Canada, with different rules and a different size field. I used to have a book (lent out to someone, never seen again) which were the memoirs of someone who went off to fight with the cavalry in the Boer War. He mentioned that American/Canadian football was derived from rugby, but the rules were gradually altered in an attempt to make it more commercially profitable for the promoters (I don't know the details of how this worked in pre-TV days). This being a war veteran's memoirs, this chapter was a long moan about how these changes had ruined the traditions behind the game of rugby, etc.
About 20 or 30 years ago there was an attempt to start an even more tedious version of American football in the US, in a new league with a new format and new set of rules. This was apparently to be highly scripted like professional wrestling and not much pretence of sport. It flopped financially in pretty short order.