This week, we told you about ESPN lobbying the College Football Playoff to change its schedule so that it won’t play next season’s semifinals on New Year’s Eve. So far, the College Football Playoff is refusing to change and holding steadfast that the semifinals will be played on December 31, 2015 rather than New Year’s Day. According to Sports Business Journal, ESPN wants to move the semifinals to Saturday, January 2, 2016 when there would be relatively little to no competition.
Part of the reason that ESPN wants to change the date of the semifinals is due to ratings. There will be lower viewership on New Year’s Eve because people would be out celebrating New Year’s. And there’s another reason as well, the NFL.
Yes, the NFL also wants the College Football Playoff to change its schedule and it’s not for the same reason. The league plans to expand its playoffs and wants to schedule a Wild Card game on a Monday night. The NFL has been considering an expansion of its playoffs to 14 teams that that would require an additional two game windows during Wild Card Weekend.
If that happens, it would conflict with the College Football Playoff Championship.
Here’s where the conflict lies. The College Football Playoff’s contract with ESPN has a few stipulations: 1) it must be played on a Monday night, preferably the second Monday in January; 2) the games must be aired on ESPN, not ESPN2 nor ESPNU; and 3) some of the cable affiliate deals with ESPN prevent the Worldwide Leader from moving the CFP Championship to ABC.
As for the NFL, if it expands to Monday night, it certainly would not want to move to ESPN2 and those same cable affiliate deals prevent ESPN from moving its Monday Night Football games to broadcast television.
Not only that, Sports Business Journal reports that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has been holding high-level talks with several college football commissioners including the SEC’s Mike Slive and the Big Ten’s Jim Delany. Goodell has been talking with the commissioners to discuss the impact of a Monday night NFL playoff on the CFP Championship. The NFL Commish has told them that any playoff expansion would likely include Monday night.
With the NFL and its commissioner throwing their weight around, it will be interesting to see how this transpires. Usually, what the NFL wants, the NFL gets, but with the College Football Playoff led by Bill Hancock, an equally, if not more stubborn man as Goodell, this battle could get quite lengthy.
So get some popcorn, sharpen your pencils and bring out your scorecards, this battle could get ugly.