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Expanded CFP Media Rights Could Double Current Deal

  • CFP could fetch $2.2 billion in annual media rights fees.
  • Look for a Fox vs. ESPN bidding war for CFP TV rights.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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With the College Football Playoff expanding from four to 12 teams by 2026, it could command media rights deals with multiple TV partners yielding over $2 billion annually, sources told Front Office Sports.

The CFP’s current deal with ESPN reportedly pays an average of $470 million a year through 2026, but the expanded playoff could fetch as much as $2.2 billion annually — more than double the current payout.

Bob Thompson, the former president of Fox Sports Networks, said combined annual rights of $2 billion would be a “little light” given the addition of so many new postseason game telecasts.

“I think it will be north of $2 billion. So ($2.2 billion) is possible,” Thompson told Front Office Sports.

  • The CFP would top the annual fees for the NCAA’s deal with CBS/Turner for the Division I men’s basketball tournament  — which paid $870 million this year. 
  • It would also usurp the Big Ten’s latest mega-deal, which will average more than $1 billion annually. 

Network Bidding War

A major bump in rights fees may not be the only way the future contract looks different. 

Like the Big Ten Conference and the NHL the CFP is expected to pursue an NFL-like strategy of splitting rights among TV partners. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey told “The Paul Finebaum Show” that the CFP plans to have multiple networks bid on the deal. 

ESPN wants to renew, sources previously told FOS, but Fox is also interested — as are CBS and NBC.

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