In an era when TV viewers keep expecting more, this is a surprise: COVID has caused some New Year’s Eve plans to be dumped, trimmed or changed.
The Fox newtwork has dropped its celebration entirely … The others will continue, but with a reduced crowd in Times Square … And two bowl games that day have switched teams.
Other celebrations are still scheduled, but only ABC and CNN will be strongly in New York. NBC is in Miami and CBS has a new country-music event, based in Nashville.
The three changes are:
– Fox had planned a three-and-a-half hour bash, hosted by Joel McHale and Ken Jeong, with music by Maroon 5, Pink, Billy Idol, Trace Adkins (one of the stars of its upcoming “Monarchs” series) and more. Now that’s been dropped; instead, there will be reruns of Christmas editions of “Shazam” at 8 p.m., “Gordon Ramsay’s European Vacation” at 9 and “I Can See Your Voice” at 11:30.
– The networks staying in New York won’t have as many screaming faces to show. The city has announced that only 15,000 people will be allowed into the designated viewing area and they must be masked and fully vaccinated. That compares to the 58,000 in most years – but is still 10 times as many as last year. And it still allows swarms outside the area.
– The Gator Bowl had to do a quick switch, when Texas A&M withdrew, because COVID and other concerns had cut into the available players. With no more “bowl-eligible” teams (with six or more wins) available, the spot went to Rutgers (5-7); it faces Wake Forest (10-3) at 11:30 a.m. ET on ESPN. And the Sun Bowl became a combination of two teams whose previous opponents had dropped out because of COVID; now it will be Washington State (8-4) and Central Michigan (7-5), at noon on CBS.
That launches a day that will still be huge: ESPN has the national semi-final bowl games at 3:30 p.m. (Alabama-Cincinnati) and 7:30 p.m. ET (Michigan-Georgia).
Barring other changes, ABC’s celebration – with the California parts done in advance – will be 8-11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. to 2:13 a.m. NBC has its “A Toast to 2021” at 8 p.m. and its Miami party from 10:30 p.m.to 12:30 a.m. CBS has its Nashville mega-party from 8-11p.m. and 11:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. And CNN starts at 8 p.m. ET.