Those running the College Football Playoff wanted to institute a new sports tradition by scheduling the semifinal games on New Year’s Eve. The tradition they inaugurated was slightly different: sports fans not watching the semifinal games because it’s freaking New Year’s Eve and who the hell wants to stay in and watch TV? The CFP might finally be acceding to reality.
For the first time, CFP executive director Bill Hancock allowed for the possibility that stubbornness and illogic are not virtues:
“We have time, but we will be thinking about whether New Year’s Eve is the right way to go. What are the alternatives, which I don’t want to get into. What might be best to give us the possibility of more fans being able to watch the games?”
After the terrible ratings for last year’s semifinals, Hancock insisted “we don’t make decisions based on television numbers.” It’s nice to see him reconsider, because even if you don’t care about ratings, it’s good to allow fans who would like to watch these games be able to.
This change of heart no doubt comes after some significant pressure from ESPN, who after the ratings tanked found themselves on the hook for a $20 million shortfall between what they promised advertisers and what they actually delivered. ESPN had to functionally eat that loss by giving away free ad time to make up the difference.
And lest you think Hancock is merely musing out loud today, ESPN notes that the very fact that he’s even mentioning it is a strong sign that it’s going to happen.
The fact that Hancock publicly addressed the possibility of moving the games off New Year’s Eve indicates it is “likely to happen,” a source said.
“There’s still work to be done,” a source said. “However, I doubt Bill would have said something if he didn’t think he could get the room [of the commissioners] there.”
Hancock did say that the soonest a change could be made would be the 2019 season. Currently, eight of the next 10 seasons are scheduled to see the semifinals played on New Year’s Eve.