The Orange Bowl has started or finished at night every year since 1965. And that won’t change this upcoming college football season, despite original plans otherwise.
The College Football Playoff announced Monday that the Capital One Orange Bowl has been moved from a scheduled early afternoon start on Saturday, Dec. 31, to a prime time game on Friday, Dec. 30.
The exact kickoff time has not been determined.
The OB’s date shift was part of a domino effect of moving kickoff times an hour earlier for the two national semifinal games next season.
Viewership plunged by more than 40 percent for the two semifinal games last season, and many blamed that drop on the fact that the games were played at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, compared with Jan. 1 the previous season.
As a result, the CFP on Monday moved up the start time of next season’s Dec. 31 national semifinal games at the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., and Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta. The games will start at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., an hour earlier than this past season’s semifinals, with the sequence of the games to be determined on Dec. 4, shortly after the pairings are announced.
“We… are confident that this change will make it easier for more fans to watch the games on television and also will benefit fans who will attend the games in person,” CFP executive director Bill Hancock said.
The CFP and the Orange Bowl decided it would be make more sense to shift the OB to Dec. 30 at night instead of playing it at 11 a.m. or 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 31, which would have been required with the semifinal games moving up an hour.
“With New Year’s Eve falling on a Saturday and other bowl games planned for the early afternoon window, this schedule enables our game to stand alone and kick off the holiday weekend as the only bowl game staged on Friday night,” OB president Michael B. Chavies said. “
As originally scheduled, the Cotton, Rose and Sugar Bowls will be played on Monday, Jan. 2, to avoid a conflict with NFL games on Jan. 1.