Last season, the College Football Playoff drew a tremendous amount of criticism for its late start time. The Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl started at 4:00 and 8:00 PM ET, respectively, ruining many New Year's Eve plans for fans around the country and especially back east.
This year's College Football Playoff will still be on New Year's Eve, but the committee is moving the time up to hopefully attract better ratings. The Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl will kick off at 3:00 and 7:00 PM ET, one hour earlier than last year's games. For Oregon fans, that means that if the Ducks make it back to the semifinals, they can watch the game and still have plenty of time to get to their parties, with the games kicking off at Noon and 4:00 PM PT.
The change comes after the College Football Playoff saw a 40% drop in ratings from the inaugural season. Many fans who would normally watch the games were not able to due to work or social events that surround New Year's Eve. This year, the numbers could improve since New Year's Eve falls on a Saturday, eliminating work out of the way for most fans.
Playoff executive director Bill Hancock said that after crunching the data, he is confident that more fans will tune into the games this year. He also said that this is a "one-time deal" and that the committee has yet to discuss plans for the remaining nine years of the contract. The semifinals are scheduled to be on New Year's Eve for seven of the next ten years.