Television ratings for Thursday's two College Football Playoff semifinal games were down by more than a third compared to last season, a clear indication that ESPN paid a price for moving the games to New Year's Eve.
ESPN had hoped to turn New Year's Eve into a new sports holiday to showcase the semifinals, much as Thanksgiving has become for the NFL and Christmas for the NBA. The network aggressively marketed the New Year's Eve semifinals in a promotional campaign, but the effort apparently did not succeed.
The lower ratings for the Orange and Cotton bowls on Thursday — each of which became lopsided in the second half — suggested the semifinals are better off on New Year's Day, as last year. More people watch TV on Jan. 1 than a day earlier, when many are working or celebrating.
ESPN was rebuffed in its wish to move the Orange and Cotton games to Jan. 2 this season.
The Rose and Sugar are part of a six-bowl rotation for the national semifinal games. The Rose and Sugar are locked in to playing on Jan. 1 (unless it falls on a Sunday), whether they're semifinals or not. So in years when they aren't, the semifinals won't be on Jan. 1.
The Orange Bowl between Clemson and Oklahoma, which kicked off about 4:10, drew a 9.1 rating, a 38.5 percent drop from last year's first semifinal, Florida State vs. Oregon in the Rose Bowl, which got a 14.8 rating. The number of viewers dropped 44.5 percent from 28,164,000 for the Rose to 15,640,000 for the Orange.
The Cotton Bowl between Michigan State and Alabama, which started about 8:20, drew a 9.6 rating compared to 15.2 for Ohio State-Alabama in the Sugar Bowl last Jan. 1 — a 36.8 percent drop. Viewership crashed 34.4 percent, from 28,271,000 to 18,552,000.
A rating point represents a percentage of all televisions.
Boykin fallout: TCU coach Gary Patterson, who suspended Trevone Boykin for tonight's Alamo Bowl against Oregon after the quarterback broke curfew and was charged with assault on a public servant, said he was disappointed. "Sometimes you have to make decisions you don't want to," he said. "My feelings went out to him. My feelings went out to the team." Boykin apologized in an online post. He said he has no excuses for his "very poor decision" and he was embarrassed.
Pittsburgh: Receiver Tyler Boyd will enter the NFL draft rather than return for his senior season, coach Pat Narduzzi said.