College Football Playoff plans to stick with New Year's Eve

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (AP) College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said Friday he does not anticipate any changes being made to next season's schedule when the semifinals will again be played on New Year's Eve.

Television ratings for the semifinals dropped about 36 percent from last season when the first College Football Playoff games were played on New Year's Day. The first game last week kicked off at a time when many people were at work and the second went up against New Year's party plans.

Hancock said that ''one year does not make a trend'' and playoff and ESPN officials need to study the data to determine how much of the decline was caused by when the games were played.

Overall, the ratings for the group of major games known as the New Year's Six on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 dropped about 13 percent compared to last season.

Hancock re-iterated the plunge in semifinal ratings were caused by more than just the change of schedule. Both Clemson's victory against Oklahoma and Alabama's win against Michigan State were lopsided games. The ratings for the first playoff last season broke records for ESPN, so some drop was expected going in, Hancock said.

''Somebody told me on the phone yesterday that ''Star Wars'' was a factor,'' Hancock said, jokingly. ''People introduce new factors all the time. This guy said, `The force was not with you, Bill.'''

New Year's Eve falls on Saturday this year. The following season, the semifinals return to New Year's Day. The next season the semifinals go back to New Year's Eve and it falls on a Monday, which creates a different dynamic because it could be a four-day weekend for many people.

''We'll learn more in the months ahead but we just don't anticipate any changes,'' Hancock said.

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AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org

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