Ratings for the College Football Playoff Semifinal games played on New Year’s Eve plummeted this season, but Bill Hancock said there are no plans to change the schedule, at least not yet.
In 2014, the first year of the playoff, the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl hosted the semifinals on New Year’s Day and both games had ratings higher than 15.0. This year, the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl were played on New Year’s Eve and both games had ratings dip to under 10.0.
Semifinal games will be played on New Year’s Eve three of the next four years, with the only exception being in 2017 when the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl host the semifinal games.
Clemson meets Alabama in the national championship game on Monday night at 8:30 p.m.
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“We’re going to have to look at all the numbers, but we will not make any direct reaction after one year,” Hancock, the Executive Director of the College Football Playoff, “We need to take a long-term look at it. We will.”
Hancock said he has received feedback from several fans who were unhappy about the games being played on New Year’s Eve, and he sympathizes with them. He admitted he was surprised to see the ratings as low as they were.
“I absolutely understand every fan who was unable to see the games. What we don’t know is how many people were unable, how many people tuned in and then tuned out when the games were not competitive, and how many people chose to do something else,” he said. “We just don’t know amongst all those factors. We’re going to have to sit back and look at it.”
Hancock believes the fact that both games were blowouts had something to do with the low ratings. Clemson defeated Oklahoma 37-17 in the Orange Bowl, while Alabama beat Michigan State 38-0 in the Cotton Bowl.
Numbers will be available in the future that will show how many people were watching during each quarter.
“The conversation will be over the next few months is what do the numbers tell us? We’re a little bit like a coach who says I have to watch the video, wait til I see the video before I know what happened,” Hancock said. “We know what the factors were… We got a little unlucky with the noncompetitive nature of the games.”
Hancock added that a dip in ratings does not change the thought process at all as far as potentially expanding the playoff to eight teams. The CFP remains committed to a four-team playoff.
“We had terrific numbers last year with the four-team tournament,” he said. “I don’t want you to read too much into the numbers. We’re not going to. We’re not going to make decisions based on the numbers, and we’re not going to make decisions based on one year.”
Who: Clemson (14-0) vs. Alabama (13-1)
When: Monday, 8:30 p.m.
Where: Glendale, Ariz.
Line: Alabama by 6 1/2