By most accounts, including the most important metric, television ratings, the New Year’s Eve slot for the College Football Playoff semifinal games was an abject failure. Despite the ratings bath and the calls from most corners to move the semifinals off New Year’s Eve, the powers that be have (stubbornly) remained steadfast in creating a new “holiday tradition.”
In March, however, the CFP at least somewhat acknowledged an issue, announcing that the start times for the 2016 playoff semifinals, on New Year’s Eve yet again, would be pushed back an hour from the year before. The thaw continued in April, with executive director Bill Hancock stating that the CFP “will continue to review this matter.”
Now, for the first-time ever Wednesday, it appears common sense is slowly taking hold when it comes to this scheduling issue. While nothing will be done about the 2016 semifinals on New Year’s Eve, and with the 2017 semis on New Year’s Day 2018, Hancock hinted that the semifinals following the 2018 season could — could — be moved off Dec. 31.
“We will be exploring whether there is a better way for the semifinals,” Hancock said according to USA Today‘s George Schroeder. “We will be thinking about whether New Year’s Eve is the right way to go. …
“The next two years, it’s not a discussion point. We have time. … It’s a matter of (having) tremendous viewership, but can there be more people who have a chance to watch the games. We want to find the best day when the most people can watch the games.”
One thing the playoffs following the 2015 season proved, New Year’s Eve is not even remotely the best day for viewership.
The semifinals are scheduled to be played on New Year’s Eve seven out of the next 10 years. Here’s to guessing that, after ESPN and the CFP take yet another ratings bath for the 2016 playoffs, that schedule will change dramatically. And will be implemented in time for the 2018 playoffs.