CFP alters semifinals after New Year’s Eve ratings drop

The Detroit News
Michigan State played Alabama in one of the CFP semifinals last season.

The College Football Playoff semifinals will no longer be played on New Year’s Eve if it falls on a weekday that is not a holiday.

Bill Hancock, executive director of the CFP, said the dates of the semifinals in four of seven years when those games were scheduled for Dec. 31 will be moved.

Those games now will take place on the preceding Saturday. There is one exception – Friday, Dec. 31, 2021. Those semifinals remained on a weekday because that Friday will be recognized as a Federal holiday for New Year’s Day.

Semifinal games this past season were Clemson defeating Oklahoma and Alabama defeating Michigan State on a Thursday. Television ratings for those games were down significantly from the first season of the College Football Playoff, in 2014.

“We had healthy discussions with a lot of people who love college football and we concluded that making these changes would be the right thing to do for our fans,” said Hancock.

“We tried to do something special with New Year’s Eve, even when it fell on a weekday. But after studying this to see if it worked, we think we can do better."

This coming season’s semifinals are the Fiesta Bowl and the Peach Bowl.


Asterisks indicate years when the schedule has been changed.

2016-17: Saturday, Dec. 31 – Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl

2017-18: Monday, Jan. 1 – Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl

*2018-19: Saturday, Dec. 29 – Cotton Bowl and Orange Bowl

*2019-20: Saturday, Dec. 28 – Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl

2020-21: Friday, January 1 – Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl

2021-22: Friday, Dec. 31 (recognized as New Year’s Day holiday) – Orange Bowl and bowl TBD

2022-23: Saturday, Dec. 31 – Bowls TBD

2023-24: Monday, Jan. 1 – Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl

*2024-25: Saturday, Dec. 28 – Orange Bowl and bowl TBD

*2025-26: Saturday, Dec. 27 – Bowls TBD