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ESPN kicks off Jimmy Kimmel ad for New Year's Eve College Football Playoff

ESPN kicks off Jimmy Kimmel ad for New Year's Eve College Football Playoff
An ESPN ad features Jimmy Kimmel, Robin Thicke and assorted athletes promoting college football on New Year's Eve. (Scott Clarke / ESPN Images / Scott Clarke / ESPN Images)

ESPN has enlisted ABC's Jimmy Kimmel in a new spot aimed at getting people to watch the College Football Playoff semifinals without forgetting their old acquaintances on New Year's Eve.

In a spot to be unveiled on ESPN's Monday telecast of "Monday Night Football" and exclusively previewed here, Kimmel is at a party with a motley group of athletes (New York Jets star Antonio Cromartie, Arizona Cardinals linebacker Dwight Freeney, Los Angeles Lakers' Nick Young), actors (Tracee Ellis Ross, Ken Jeong), singers (Robin Thicke, Kelly Rowland) and college team mascots (Joe and Josie Bruin) to suggest that the Cotton Bowl and the Orange Bowl can be enjoyed while ringing in the new year.

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"Historically sports haven't been top of mind on New Year's Eve," said Emeka Ofodile, senior director of marketing for ESPN. "What we're saying is we don't want to beat them, we want to join them. We want to be part of this New Year's celebration."

The games have been scheduled on a date that falls on a Thursday and is not a legal holiday or off-day from work for many Americans. It will also be a busy travel day before a three-day holiday weekend. The conflict was less of an issue for ESPN last time around as it was the first year of the College Football Playoff system and curiosity was high.

But now the network wants to turn New Year's Eve college football into a habit, which is why it will flood its channels and social media with the promotional spot after the Monday debut.

"It's been done before," said Ofodile. "People used to say the NFL was crazy for playing on Thanksgiving and the NBA was crazy for playing on Christmas. They have transformed those days into sports holidays and we think we can do the same."

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