ESPN owes advertisers millions over low CFP ratings

The College Football Playoff TV ratings were 34 percent lower than last year, and now ESPN owes a lot of money as a result. According to a report from Broadcasting & Cable, the network owes advertisers approximately $20 million in makegoods following the low ratings.

“Despite the efforts of the College Football Playoff committee and some media outlets downplaying the financial hit ESPN took by being forced to televise the two national championship semi-final games on New Year’s Eve, media buyers say the network owes upwards of $20 million in ad makegoods for ratings shortfalls for the two games,” the report reads.

“ESPN may have gotten a bit greedy when setting its ratings estimates and offering higher guarantee levels to advertisers for the two games, knowing audiences might not flock to their TV sets, despite the optimism of the CFP committee. However, advertisers are concerned about next season’s potential audience levels for the games, which will also be televised on New Year’s Eve. Even if the ratings guarantees by ESPN are set lower, advertisers would prefer the games be moved to New Year’s Day or even on consecutive primetime nights, exclusive of New Year’s Eve, when more people would likely watch.”

This isn’t entirely ESPN’s fault, as the semifinal matchups of Clemson vs. Oklahoma and Alabama vs. Michigan State were expected to be barnburners with scores that suggested a dog fight until the bitter end. Instead, Alabama won 38-0 and Clemson won 37-17.

It also didn’t help that the games were broadcast primetime on New Year’s Eve, a day when most people aren’t at home watching sports.

Thus, given how the playoff games are also scheduled for New Year’s Eve next year, it’s understandable why advertisers are concerned.

The good news is that ESPN has an approximate net worth of $40 billion, so paying this money should be fairly easy for the network.

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports