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ESPN reaches massive new agreement with College Football Playoff

College Football Playoff logo

Jan 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Detailed view of the 2020 College Football Playoff National Championship logo at midfield at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN has been the exclusive carrier of all College Football Playoff games since the tournament began in 2014, and the network has reserved the right to continue with that arrangement for years to come.

According to a Tuesday report from The Athletic, ESPN and the College Football Playoff have agreed to a six-year, $7.8 billion contract extension. The new deal will keep the College Football Playoff with ESPN through at least the 2031-32 season.

The agreement is contingent upon College Football Playoff officials finalizing the details of the expanded tournament, which will feature 12 teams beginning next season. Officials are still working on the financials of the new format and the criteria for how playoff teams will be chosen.

There are two years remaining on ESPN’s current media rights agreement with the College Football Playoff. ESPN holds the rights to all games in the expanded CFP, which will now feature a set of first-round games held at on-campus sites in addition to quarterfinals, semifinals, and the CFP National Championship game. The quarterfinals will be the New Year’s Six bowls, and ESPN already held the rights to those games before CFP expansion.

ESPN will have the ability with the new contract to sublicense games, according to The Athletic. That leaves open the possibility of other networks or streaming platforms carrying College Football Playoff games.

A report last year said at least two streaming giants have had preliminary discussions with the CFP officials about media rights packages.

CFP officials are still working on how the 12 playoff teams will be determined, as the implosion of the Pac-12 conference added a new wrinkle to the discussions. ESPN’s media rights extension with the CFP will not be finalized until all of that is sorted out.


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