The second college football playoff is half over. The two semifinal games are in the books, inexplicably played on New Year's Eve. More information trickled out over the last week about why these games were scheduled on New Year's Eve, including the news that ESPN desperately tried to move them to no avail.
Instead the rating's were down 30%, something some are trying to blame on two blowouts and programs (Clemson and Michigan St.) without enough national cachet. ESPN PR even tried to spin the ratings as positive, making references to the "highest rated New Year's Eve games ever", which of course is like talking about how someone entering the Indy 500 with a Model T would have finished with "the best Indy 500 time with a Model T in history". There was zero chance these games would not rank first and second in NYE bowl TV ratings, they are two of the three most important bowl games of the year.
No time zone could avoid the horror. While people on the east coast likely got home from work to see the second half of the first game, people on the west coast who were working a normal day likely missed all of the first game. The people on the east coast were then ringing in the New Year around the time the 2nd game was ending, while people on the west coast probably got to see most of it.
The horrible news for college football fans is that this problem isn't going away. Thanks to the leap year in 2016, NYE is moving to Saturday next time around, so this problem next year will at least be somewhat mitigated by the fact that most people will be off work. Perhaps that will convince them to move the games up an hour to 3 PM eastern? Regardless, the late game will still conflict with many people's plans.
For anyone who hasn't heard the news or clicked the links above, the reason for these games not being on New Year's Day is that the Sugar and Rose bowl were unwilling to budge from their contracted time slots. While that isn't defensible for the most part, it should not have been a deal breaker. For whatever reason the bowls (or whoever) refused ESPN's request to move them to Saturday January 2nd. Might it have pissed off some of the bowl that day? Sure, but the slate was pretty weak and the playoff should supersede them.
A better question though, why not move them to Wednesday December 30th? Again there were bowl games scheduled for then, but they could have been moved (and to be honest I think they were the bowl games normally played on NYE anyway). I can't imagine anyone was doing anything on the 30th. Think about it, almost everyone goes out on NYE, meaning that most of those people are probably staying in on the 30th. The weather is crappy in most of the country, people are in family-hangover mode from Christmas, TV shows are in re-runs, they could have owned the night. It made almost no sense to make this move.
Two years from now (January 1st 2018) the Rose and Sugar host the semifinal games, so things are back to New Year's Day for at least one year. But then after that they go astray again. Hopefully by New Year's Eve 2018 they will have found a better solution because this is stupidity and arrogance at it's finest.