The overnight ratings are in, and they spell disaster for College Football Playoff games on New Year's Eve, at least, as far as television goes. Viewership for the semifinals dropped by more than 36 percent as fans turned away from blowout bowl matchups on Dec. 31.
Overnights: 9.9 for Cotton and 9.7 for Orange. Last year's semis were 15.5 for the early game and 15.3 for the late one.— John Ourand (@Ourand_SBJ) January 1, 2016
However, there was a silver lining at ESPN. The bowl games drew big numbers to the network's online streaming app.
Record streaming for CFP Semis: Cotton & Orange Bowls 2nd & 3rd best ever for WatchESPN (non-World Cup),behind only last year's CFP title— Josh Krulewitz (@jksports) January 1, 2016
This wasn't exactly ESPN's idea. The games were on New Year's Eve because the conferences agreed to keep the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day, whether they're semifinals or not.
In the end, a pair of blowouts and the lure of New Year's Eve parties proved too much competition for the College Football Playoff semifinals. Not even the promise of a dancing Nick Saban could improve viewership between 2015 and 2016.
As SB Nation contributor Rodger Sherman pointed out, the lack of a federal holiday made the games inaccessible for many potential viewers.
This could create some major problems for the Playoff in the future. The semifinals are currently scheduled for Dec. 31 in three of the next four years.