College Football Playoff Moves Kickoff Times Up an Hour; Games Remain on New Year's Eve

By Eric Seger on March 7, 2016 at 12:19 pm
The College Football Playoff shifted its kickoff times up an hour this year.

Even though ratings for the College Football Playoff dropped like crazy in Year Two as they sat on New Year's Eve (a Thursday), the entity won't move the semifinals off the date because it is "starting a new tradition." Monday, however, the Playoff announced it plans to move kickoffs up an hour on New Year's Eve. Also, the Orange Bowl is set to be before the new year.


IRVING, Texas – Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the College Football Playoff (CFP), today announced that this year’s Playoff Semifinals, at the Fiesta Bowl and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Saturday, December 31, will begin at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Eastern time on ESPN.  Additionally, the Capital One Orange Bowl game will be Friday night, December 30, also on ESPN.

Last year’s semifinal games began at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

“As we committed earlier this year, we have looked at the landscape for the upcoming season and are confident that this change will make it easier for more fans to watch the games on television and also will benefit fans who will attend the games in person,” Hancock said.  “The semifinals will be played on Saturday for the first time.   The Capital One Orange Bowl will be in an evening time slot, which is its tradition.”

The Cotton Bowl and Rose Bowl are scheduled for Jan. 2 (a Monday), their traditional slots when New Year's Day falls on a Sunday. At least New Year's Eve is a Saturday this year.

“The first two years have shown us that the playoff is extremely popular with fans and that we successfully struck an appropriate balance creating a new event while maintaining the great traditions that have enabled college football to hold such an important place in the country’s culture,” Hancock said.

“When the playoff was created, we intended to respect tradition while growing the game and the fan base.  That will continue to be an important element of our focus in the future.”

The new start times allow for the first semifinal to kick off at noon on the west coast and the second to end by the time the the ball drops in New York City.

Here is the whole 2016-17 College Football Playoff schedule:

  • Dec. 30 (kick TBA) — Orange Bowl
  • Dec. 31 (3 p.m. ET) — Peach/Fiesta Bowl (semifinal)
  • Dec. 31 (7 p.m. ET) — Peach/Fiesta Bowl (semifinal)
  • Jan. 2 (1 p.m. ET) — Cotton Bowl
  • Jan. 2 (5 p.m. ET) — Rose Bowl
  • Jan. 2 (8:30 p.m. ET) — Sugar Bowl 

The shifts should help television ratings, which is really all we want, right?

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