• Loading stock data...
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -

ESPN Reportedly Lands $7.8B CFP Extension. Here’s What We Know

  • ESPN will reportedly retain all of the CFP’s media rights through 2032.
  • ‘The Athletic’ is reporting an extended deal will be worth $7.8 billion.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The race for the College Football Playoff’s future media rights may be over.

The Athletic is reporting that ESPN and the CFP are in agreement on a six-year, $7.8 billion extension for the network to retain all of the Playoff’s broadcast rights through the 2031–32 season. ESPN has owned rights to the CFP since it began in ’14, and its current contract runs for the next two seasons. The new deal hasn’t been officially signed, per The Athletic, and is contingent upon CFP leaders finalizing details of the expanded 12-team format.

Last month, ESPN college football reporter Pete Thamel put out a report saying his network was in talks about a deal of this nature. (Front Office Sports has previously reported, however, that Fox Sports was planning a major push to get a slice of the rights.)

Both ESPN and the CFP declined to provide a comment on the report to FOS

What FOS Is Hearing

FOS reporter Amanda Christovich: FOS was unable to confirm The Athletic’s report, with one industry source saying that it definitely took some by surprise. If the report is true, however, it could be ESPN’s checkmate against Fox in the battle for college football supremacy. The two have been the ruling duopoly of CFB media rights, with ESPN controlling the SEC and Fox controlling the Big Ten, for the past several years.

According to The Athletic, ESPN could still sublicense some games in the expanded 12-team event out to other networks, so Fox could still broadcast a few games if it buys them from ESPN. Not to mention that the new streaming sports bundle with Fox Corp., ESPN, and Warner Bros. Discovery allows all three networks to benefit from one another’s inventory. But ultimately, the college football duopoly appears to be collapsing into a monopoly—something commissioners at non-ESPN conferences have been trying to prevent for more than a year.

FOS senior writer Michael McCarthy: ESPN might as well put an “F” in its name for football. To me, ESPN is sending a message to friend and foe that it’s making itself primarily a football-driven media company. We know the four letters have locked up the NFL’s Monday Night Football package through 2033—along with its first two Super Bowls. Now it’s finalizing rights to the only bowl games that will move the needle TV-wise over the next decade of college football. Plus, it’s sending a shot across the bows of Fox Sports, its biggest rival for college football rights.

As media consultant Lee Berke told me Tuesday: “Football has done extraordinarily well for [ESPN]. They have both pro and college. They’ve made a substantial investment in retaining all the SEC rights going forward—and they’re splitting the Big 12. Look, ESPN owns bowl season. There’s very few bowl games that are not part of that package. Essentially, what will happen is these bowls, under this expanded Playoff system, will increasingly be the only major bowl games that matter. To have that entire franchise is a terrific opportunity. … [Football] delivers time and again. So it makes a lot of sense.”

Crowded Competition

Aside from ESPN, CBS, Fox, NBC, Warner Bros. Discovery, Apple, and Amazon had all been linked to at least hold preliminary discussions with the CFP for some or all of its media rights. Fox, in particular, was said to be weighing a “massive bid.” Sources previously told FOS that the CFP was exploring the idea of creating a Super Bowl–like rotation among multiple network partners for the national championship game. In the end, though, it appears ESPN was able to win out.

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Mythical Knicks Pitch to LeBron James With ‘Sopranos,’ Trump, Weinstein Leaks 14 Years Later

Video shows Tony and Carmela Soprano recruiting LeBron James to the Knicks.

WNBA Draft Fashion Has Come a Long Way From ‘Most Athletic Accountants’ Era

The WNBA draft used to have a strict dress code, a former top pick tells FOS.

Does Golf TV Have A Scottie Scheffler Problem?

Masters ratings were down 20% this year.

O.J. Simpson Lawyer Says He Won’t Shield Estate From Goldman, Brown Families

The executor of Simpson’s will had previously said the Goldmans would get ‘zero.’
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

Inside the Most-Hyped WNBA Draft in History


Featured Today

Women’s Basketball Finally Has a TV Deal to Match the Excitement. Now What?

A lucrative new media-rights contract could rectify problems of the past, but the future of March Madness media rights is anyone’s guess.
Mar 16, 2024; Washington, D.C., USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward DJ Burns Jr. (30) cuts the net after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels for the ACC Conference Championship at Capital One Arena.
April 6, 2024

How Two College Seniors Helped DJ Burns Cash In on a Final Four Run

Two college seniors are facilitating deals for NC State’s big man.
Mar 31, 2024; Portland, OR, USA; NCAA officials measure the three point line while coaches from the Texas Longhorns and NC State Wolfpack watch with referees in the finals of the Portland Regional of the NCAA Tournament at the Moda Center center.
April 1, 2024

NCAA Has No One to Blame for Latest Women’s March Madness Transgressions

NCAA is still making avoidable mistakes three years after a complete overhaul.
Nov 16, 2015; Bloomington, IN, USA; General view of the championship banners at Assembly Hall prior to the game between Austin Peay and Indiana.
March 31, 2024

How to Make It in Basketball: Become a Manager at Indiana

Inside the Hoosiers’ unglamorous, profoundly rewarding incubator for basketball’s biggest names.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Multiple - USA Careers
Multiple - USA Careers
Dunham's Sports
Multiple - USA Careers

The Yankees’ Radio Voice Retires, Ending an Era of Longevity

The longtime Yankees radio announcer was an industry outlier in many respects.
April 15, 2024

Scott Van Pelt’s Podcast Reboot Latest in Peyton Manning’s Budding ESPN/Omaha Fiefdom

ESPN star Scott Van Pelt is joining forces with Peyton Manning.
April 15, 2024

Star-Studded NBA Play-In a Potential Ratings Boon for ESPN and TNT

The initial portion of the NBA postseason features three former MVPs.

Rapid Returns: How Technology Is Getting You Back to Your Seat

How Oracle’s POS technology is helping fans get back to their seats faster.
April 14, 2024

Calling the Masters Can Make You—or Break You

Legends are made at Augusta—as long as they do things Augusta’s way.
April 12, 2024

Lawsuit Alleges ‘Fraudulent Coup’ at Former ‘Sports Illustrated’ Publisher

A messy situation just keeps getting messier.
April 10, 2024

The Masters’ Broadcasters Take What They Can Get

During the first two rounds, ESPN’s coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET.
April 8, 2024

Sports Media Game-Changer? Skydance Eyes CBS Parent in $5B Deal

The two sides have agreed to a month of exclusive talks.