NCAA playoff schedule affects ratings negatively
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The NCAA needs to adjust their playoff schedule if they want to receive media coverage and television ratings comparable to those of the National Football League.
The new College Football Playoff, used to determine the NCAA national champion, is a new format which concluded its third season in 2017.
This short trial period has allowed for issues to arise with the scheduling of the semifinal and national championship games, which have led to less impressive ratings than were originally expected by ESPN.
ESPN paid over $5.5 billion to broadcast the series over the next twelve years, according to CBS Sports.
As the semi-final games of the College Football Playoff lacked a competitve edge this year, their ratings were also hampered due to the fact that they were played on the night of December 31, due to the National Football League’s games on Sunday, January 1.
In the inaugural season of the College Football Playoff, the semi-final games were played on New Year’s Day, and earned an average of a 15.4 overnight television rating, according to Sports TV Ratings.
The ratings of semi-final games on New Year’s Eve averaged a 9.9 in 2015, and a 10.5 in 2016, according to the same study.
When the playoff games fall on Dec. 31, they are often followed by non-playoff bowl games in the first days of January. This cheapens the concept of the playoff, as the playoffs should be the last series of games in a season.
It makes no sense for the intrigue around the sport to peak with the playoffs, only for insignificant games to be played in between the semi-finals and the championship.
Ratings for the College Football Playoff when it is played on New Year’s Day noticeable outpace their ratings when they are played on the night of New Year’s Eve.
This could be caused by more people having plans on New Year’s Eve, or that people tend to watch the games in groups around one TV, which is essentially bad for television ratings even if the same number of people are watching the game.
The NCAA and College Football Playoff committee need to abandon the concept of playing semi-final games on New Year’s Eve unless it is necessary.
The College Football Playoff semi-finals need to take place on New Year’s Day, unless it falls on a Sunday, as the playoff games would not be able to compete against the NFL’s slate of games on a Sunday.
If ESPN and the NCAA want to make the most out of the College Football Playoff, they need to realize that semi-finals on New Year’s Eve are harmful to ratings and interest for the games.