College Football Playoff 2018: Semifinal Ratings Up 26% over Last Year's Games

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2018

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Georgia Bulldogs and Oklahoma Sooners react after Lorenzo Carter #7 of the Georgia Bulldogs blocks the field goal attempt from Austin Seibert #43 of the Oklahoma Sooners in the 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal Game at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2018 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Television ratings for the College Football Playoff semifinals rose 26 percent from last season during Monday's games, which saw Georgia win a double-overtime thriller against Oklahoma and Alabama defeat Clemson in a rematch of last year's championship game.

Derek Volner of ESPN Media Zone noted the semifinal contests, which moved from New Year's Eve to New Year's Day, were also up 42 percent from the 2015 campaign.

The back-and-forth clash between the Bulldogs and Sooners received a 14.8 overnight rating when combining the ESPN and ESPN2 broadcasts, while the Crimson Tide and Tigers drew a 12.5 overnight rating despite a late kickoff and a less competitive game, per Volner.

In all, the report pointed out the network's coverage of the entire New Year's Six bowl slate averaged an 8.4 overnight rating, the highest mark in the four-year CFP era.

CFP executive director Bill Hancock announced in 2016 they would no longer host the semifinal games on New Year's Eve after TV ratings started to sag.

"We looked at the replay and we reversed the call," Hancock told George Schroeder of USA Today.

He added: "After the study, we just feel like this is in the best interest of fans. They want to experience these games, and we want them to. And these changes for four years will allow that to happen."

The early returns are promising, though the entertaining nature of the game between Georgia and Oklahoma, paired with a title-game rematch, surely helped the playoff's cause.

ESPN will also broadcast the championship game between SEC rivals Georgia and Alabama next Monday at 8 p.m. ET from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

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