11:46am PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: College Playoffs Crater in NYE Move, Countdown Remains Huge for ABC
New Year's Eve brought good news and bad news for Disney-owned networks. ABC's live coverage of the ball drop in Times Square brought audiences out in droves. ESPN's college football playoff semifinals, however, sank in their move from New Year's Day.
Final returns for New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest, including the most-watched hour, likely won't be available until next week — but the last hour of primetime was up a skosh from last year's highs. An average 13.1 million tuned in between 10 and 11 p.m. The coverage also garnered a strong 3.9 rating among adults 18-49.
Over on ESPN, the semifinals fell 36 percent from last season. The Cotton and Orange Bowls were fairly evenly matched — averaging a respective 9.9 and 9.7 rating among households. Last year's comparable outings, played on the much more football-friendly Jan. 1, nabbed a 15.5 and 15.3 rating.
ESPN brass likely aren't too discouraged. The network is making an effort to brand New Year's Eve as a home for college football. If Thursday's showings are any indication, it will likely be an uphill battle.