New Year’s day was perfect for college football fans. They could sit down and watch games all day, including the semi-final games of the College Football Playoff. The playoffs have been a ratings success, drawing historic numbers for ESPN. Ratings have actually been up across the board for this college football bowl season. The semi-final matchups between Oregon/Florida State and Alabama/Ohio State generated interest from both die-hard and casual fans alike.
Next year those casual fans might not be so keen on watching, and that is without knowing the matchups. Next year the semi-finals will actually be on New Year’s Eve, and not New Year’s Day. Why? Because the Rose and the Sugar Bowl both negotiated that both will always be held on January 1, even when they are not part of the CFP rotation. The Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl (next year’s semi-final hosts) are scheduled on December 31. There is a pretty solid chance some casual fans won’t be interested in staying in and watching a football game instead of going out and reveling in New Year’s festivities.
It is not a stretch to say that viewership will suffer due to this scheduling issue. Advertisers may not be willing to pay as much because they know viewership could be less than this year’s numbers. Sponsors may see less of an ROI because there isn’t as much exposure if there aren’t as many eyeballs watching the games. The odd scheduling choice may anger fans, but the business stakeholders may be upset as well.
Michael Colangelo is Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute and Senior Editor of The Fields of Green.