== ESPN executive vice president of programming and scheduling Burke Magnus is somewhat polite in assessing how putting two College Football Playoff games on New Year’s Eve will attract viewers.
“It definitely presents a unique challenge,” he is quoted in Adweek.com. “We’re curious to see how it plays out.”
In the New York Times, ESPN’s Ilan Ben-Hanan, vice president for college sports programming, frames it this way: “We realize that New Year’s Eve is not New Year’s Day. We know it’ll be different. But we think the notion of sports and a holiday can exist peacefully.”
As noted, Oregon’s 59-20 win over Florida State in the Rose Bowl followed by Ohio State’s 42-35 win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl drew more than 28 million viewers each with a New Year’s Day airing last season.
This is the first of two consecutive seasons where New Year’s Eve will host the semifinal doubleheader. It’s a system that kind of paints itself into a corner based on when it wants to stage the national championship game, and how the Rose Bowl and its 2 p.m. Jan. 1 kickoff gets in everyone’s way.
On the West Coast, all of this should not be much of an issue — except, as USA Today’s Nancy Armour points out, some of us working today may miss some of it.
“The semifinals are two of the biggest games of the entire college football season, topped only by the title game,” she writes. “They should command attention, not be forced to compete for it.”
In the East, the competition seems more fierce. There will also be a clear message that ESPN’s games are feeding into ABC’s regular New Year’s Eve programming hosted by Ryan Seacrest, which has been promoted heavily during ESPN programming during the bowl season. Sage Steele, the ESPN/ABC NBA studio host, will join Seacrest to try to make it seem more of a group effort.
That’s Disney synergy at work. Again. Trying to sell us on this with a Jimmy Kimmel promo that seems rather awkward just from the concept.
So here’s how ESPN’s coverage of the College Football Playoff semifinal games tonight lays out:
= Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe are on the Oklahoma-Clemson Orange Bowl at 1 p.m. (Bill Rosinski, David Norrie and Joe Schad have the game on ESPN Radio/710-AM KSPN). The ESPN studio show includes Rece Davis, Lee Corso, Desmond Howard, David Pollack, Joey Galloway, Butch Davis, George Whitfield, Gene Wojciechowski, Samantha Ponder and Marty Smith.
= Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Heather Cox are on the Michigan State-Alabama Cotton Bowl at 5 p.m. (Brad Sham, Danny Kanell and Ian Fitzsimmons have the game on ESPN Radio/710-AM KSPN). The ESPN studio show has Adnan Virk, Joe Tessitore, Herbstreit, Mack Brown, Mark May, Danny Kanell. Tim Tebo, Kaylee Hartung and Tom Rinaldi.
= Also today: Dave Pasch, Brian Griese and Tom Luginbill on the Houston-Florida State Peach Bowl (9 a.m., ESPN)
== The ESPN broadcasting crews for the five New Year’s Day games on Friday:
= Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer and Maria Taylor are on the Stanford-Iowa Rose Bowl (2 p.m., ESPN)
= Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore and Quint Kessenich have the Northwestern-Tennessee Outback Bowl (9 a.m., ESPN2)
= Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman and Todd McShay are on the Notre Dame-Ohio State Fiesta Bowl (10 a.m., ESPN)
= Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard and Shannon Spake call the Ole Miss-Oklahoma State Sugar Bowl (5:30 p.m., ESPN)
= Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham and Jerry Punch are on the Michigan-Florida Citrus Bowl (10 a.m., Channel 7) Continue reading