College football fans are very rarely united on any front. One of the few instances in which they are is in regards to the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. For years, fans have complained about putting the game on a Monday night and, more relevantly for this post, having it start late. Last year's game was slated to start at 8:15pm ET. But as everybody who watches sports on national broadcasts know, the game never actually starts as scheduled. There are final pregame reports to fit in and anthems to sing and commercials to run. As a result, the most important college football game of the year doesn't end until after 11pm ET and half the country is mad about it.
On this front, ESPN brings good tidings! On Thursday, the network announced that they'd bump up kickoff from 8:15pm ET to 7:30pm ET.
This is a big surprise due to the reason the game started so late in the past-- West Coast viewership. Any game, no matter the sport, is going to suffer in the viewership if it starts before 5pm PT. The lone exception is the Super Bowl, which is immune to every ratings pothole and also takes place on Sunday.
It is also for that reason that we view this announcement with a healthy skepticism. That and the wording. The promise is not that coverage will begin at 7:30pm ET, the game will kickoff at that time. That would be tremendous for the East Coast but not so much for the network's ratings department.
Come January we'll find out if kickoff goes off without a hitch or if it ends up resembling the NBA on TNT games.