ESPN has released the overnight ratings for yesterday’s College Football Playoff Semifinal games. That release is very glass half-full, touting the year-over-year increases compared to last year’s woeful ratings.
A slight bump, however, was not unexpected. The results still show that New Year’s Eve games are probably a bad idea if getting the product to be seen by the most people is the goal. When it comes to likelihood of viewers, a weekday New Year’s Eve is worse than a weekend one, when it comes to that early game. Both are worse than other options.
The Peach Bowl did a 11.5 overnight rating across both ESPN and ESPN2’s alternate broadcast. It did a 10.9 on ESPN alone. The Fiesta Bowl did a 10.5 on both channels and a 10.0 on ESPN alone.
Limiting it to just the ESPN broadcasts the last two years, the first semifinal’s 10.9 was better than the 9.7 of last year’s Clemson-Oklahoma game, and the second semifinal’s 10.0 was virtually similar to the 9.9 of Alabama-Michigan State last year in roughly the same time slot heading into the late night of New Year’s Eve.
Meanwhile, two years ago, with the games not on New Year’s Eve, the two games had ratings of 15.5 (Rose) and 15.3 (Sugar).
So while yesterday was a relative success compared to last year for the network, it’s still about two-thirds of what it was on New Year’s Day. Next year, we’ll see if that initial number was a function of the newness of the format, or as we suspect, an indictment of the decision to put the games on in the evening of New Year’s Eve.