• Loading stock data...
Sunday, February 25, 2024
Rates for the 2024 Best Venue Awards increase this Sunday at 11:59 p.m. ET

CFP Considers Super Bowl-Like Rotation For National Championship Game

  • College football’s title game could rotate among multiple media partners annually, sources told Front Office Sports.
  • ESPN’s contract, which includes exclusive rights to the National Championship, expires after the 2025 season.
The College Football Playoff is considering rotating TV networks for the national championship game.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The College Football Playoff (CFP) may take a page out of the NFL for its National Championship game.

For its next long-term cycle of media rights, the CFP wants to sign multiple network TV partners. Similar to the Super Bowl, the CFP is considering a structure that would rotate the title game among those media partners on an annual basis, sources told Front Office Sports. 

The goal: maximize rights fees and cross promotion for college football’s National Championship, which draws far smaller TV viewership than the Super Bowl. 

ESPN is on the tail end of a 12-year, $5.64 billion rights deal that pays the CFP an estimated $470 million a year. But ESPN’s contract, which includes exclusive rights to the National Championship, expires after the 2025 season.

Virtually every major media player has expressed interest in the rights to the future 12-team playoff. The CFP has begun preliminary discussions about rights starting with the 2026 season. The contenders range from ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC Sports and Warner Bros. Discovery Sports to giant streamers Amazon Prime Video and Apple, as FOS has previously reported.

The structure of the deal has not been agreed upon yet, however.

The NFL currently rotates Super Bowl broadcast rights among long-term TV partners CBS (which will air Super Bowl 58 from Las Vegas on Feb. 11), NBC and Fox. The Walt Disney Co.’s ABC/ESPN will join the Super Bowl rotation after the 2026 and 2030 seasons.

Using multiple partners to boost overall rights fees is the classic NFL strategy, which has been copied by competitors like NASCAR and the NHL. 

NASCAR just announced seven-year deals worth $7.7 billion that brought in new partners like Amazon and WBD Sports alongside incumbents NBC and Fox. Previously, the Big Ten announced a seven-year, $8 billion deal to spread its games across Fox, NBC and CBS through 2029. 

Despite ESPN’s creative use of “MegaCasts,” the National Championship Game needs a shot in the arm ratings-wise.

ESPN’s telecast of Georgia’s 65-7 blowout win over TCU this year averaged 17.2 million viewers — the least-watched National Championship since the dawn of the BCS/CFP era in 1999, according to Sports Media Watch

Those numbers less than the 18 million average viewers for NFL regular season games this year through Week 12. They are just half of the 35.6 million viewers for the 2006 USC vs. Texas Rose Bowl, and not even in the same ballpark as the record 115.1 million viewers for Fox’s telecast of the Kansas City Chiefs vs. Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl 57. Still, it’s a tentpole property that attracts dozens of sponsors and upwards of $60 million in ad revenue.

ESPN and Fox — the ruling duopoly of college football TV — have already made presentations to the CFP.

But the opportunity for broadcast rivals like Fox or NBC to snatch rights away from ESPN will only add more spice to the bidding.

ESPN might be willing to give up part of the CFP to pay for other expensive rights like the NBA, sources said.

Cost-cutting Disney is no longer okay with ESPN simply outbidding rivals for marquee rights. Under chairman Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN has become more disciplined and picky: ESPN walked away from expensive Big Ten rights — despite a 40-year relationship with the conference.

Back in 2022, Pitaro told Bloomberg he’s “willing to be flexible” about sharing TV rights with other networks for the expanded CFP.

ESPN is set to televise this season’s National Championship game from Houston on Jan. 8, 2024.

Linkedin
Whatsapp
Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Sham Gods: The Rapidly Growing World of Sports Impersonators on X

Fake Schefters and Wojs, fabricated trade demands, and borrowed profile pictures.
Sep 24, 2023; Oakland, California, USA; A general view of the Oakland Athletics dugout after the game against the Detroit Tigers at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

Murky Future: Everything You Need to Know About the A’s Move to Las Vegas

Breaking down one of the most drawn-out, multifaceted sagas in sports.
Michigan defensive lineman Kenneth Grant celebrates a sack on Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. in the second quarter during the College Football Playoff national championship game against Washington at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

Pay-for-Play Is Here: Federal Judge Says NCAA Cannot Enforce Any NIL Rules

The ruling effectively allows pay-for-play to go forward uninhibited.

WBD Touts Streaming Profit, Sports Alliance While Stock Is Hammered

TNT Sports parent sees tough reaction from Wall Street to latest earnings.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

How the Negro Leagues Are Staying in the Game

0:00
0:00

Featured Today

Sabrina-Steph Wasn’t the ‘Battle of the Sexes’—But It Was Part of the Bigger War

The competition could play a factor in increasing the WNBA’s media value.
NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace (23), in a Star Wars rebel alliance X-wing fighter pilot-inspired race suit, motions to the crowd to get louder during the driver introductions for the Cup Series Championship race at Phoenix Raceway in Avondale on Nov. 5, 2023.
February 17, 2024

Celebrity Owners, International Ambitions, and $7B Media Deals: Welcome to the New NASCAR

NASCAR boldly keeps pace with the increasingly competitive sports and entertainment world.
February 16, 2024

Wilson Introduced an Airless Basketball for $2,500. We Had Questions

The black, 3D-printed ball appeared in last year’s Slam Dunk Contest.
Emily Henegar, a baker and content creator, made a batch of NFL-inspired cookies featuring Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce.
February 11, 2024

The ‘Life-Changing’ Economy of Taylor Swift’s NFL Outfits

Appearing in Swift’s game-day wardrobe has been “life-changing” for small businesses.

Careers

Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Finance Manager
FanDuel
New York, NY
Senior Technical Artist - Sports Technology
EA Sports
Orlando, FL
Assistant Manager, Affiliate Operations
Adidas
Portland, OR
Arizona Diamondbacks

Diamondbacks Heading Into Another Season With MLB in Charge of Media Rights

The D-Backs chose the league over getting their own over-the-air partners.
A Bundesliga camera operator during a match
February 22, 2024

Fan Power in European Soccer Grows As German Football Deal Scuttled 

Weeks of increasingly strident protests lead to end of proposed private equity deal.
Chad Powers
February 22, 2024

Tuned In: Hulu Turning Glen Powell Into Eli Manning With ‘Chad Powers’ Comedy

The ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ star will play the comedic QB Manning created for ESPN+.
Sponsored

Live Sports Are Now High-Tech Experiences

Oracle is leading the technology revolution happening in stadiums across the world.
Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi following the victory against Los Angeles FC at BMO Stadium.
February 21, 2024

Lionel Messi Phenomenon Spurs Specialized Media Attention

Messi joins Taylor Swift and Beyoncé for celebrities to have their beat writer at ‘USA Today.’
FuboTV signage
February 21, 2024

FuboTV Lawsuit Against Sports Streaming Giants Likely Faces Uphill Climb

Legal and regulatory drama heightens around the high-profile streaming alliance.
Athletes Unlimited
February 21, 2024

Athletes Unlimited Is Getting All Four of Its Women’s Pro Leagues on ESPN Platforms

The league is reducing its ESPN+ games to make room for other partners.
Amazon-NFL
February 21, 2024

Tuned In: Amazon Said to Be Paying Record $120M to Stream NFL Playoff Game

Is JJ Redick aiming to become ESPN’s Charles Barkley?