ESPN might owe $20M in free ads for abysmal playoff semifinal ratings – Sporting News

Owning the TV rights to the College Football Playoff might not be all it’s cooked up to be for ESPN — at least if media buyers get their way.

Because the semifinal games on New Year’s Eve saw such a huge viewership drop from a year ago, media buyers are claiming ESPN owes them around $20 million in advertiser makegoods — free advertising to accommodate for the semifinal shortfall.

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And with the semifinal games slated to fall on New Year’s Eve again next year, the buyers are reportedly expressing concern.

There was a 38.5 percent drop in the Orange Bowl ratings and a 36.8 percent drop in the Cotton Bowl. Both games saw a multimillion fall in viewership from 2014.

If the viewership continues to be low on New Year’s Eve, advertisers would prefer the games be moved to New Year’s Day or Jan. 2, when people might be more likely to watch. Even if ESPN lowers the rating guarantees, the media buyers will likely not be pleased, according to the Broadcasting & Cable report.

The College Football Playoff committee refuses to change the date of the semifinal games in the immediate future, which leaves ESPN trying to please both sides.

Maybe the matchups in 2014 were better than this season. Whatever the case, most agree that New Year’s Eve is too busy of a day to pay attention to football.

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