NBC is one of the networks exploring a slice of the 12-team College Football Playoff, Front Office Sports has learned.
The CFP has begun having preliminary discussions for the media rights to the expanded playoff, which are up for grabs in 2026. Unlike the current four-team CFP, owned exclusively by ESPN, the next package will likely include multiple networks.
Last week, the CFP heard presentations from five media companies — one of which was NBC, a source confirmed to FOS.
NBC declined to comment on this story. But in an interview last week about the network’s new deal with the Big Ten, NBC Sports President of Acquisitions and Partnerships Jon Miller told FOS the broadcaster has had “conversations” with the CFP.
“I think the College Football Playoffs are a very unique, exciting package,” he said. “The expansion obviously brings a lot more attention and focus to the sport in December and January.”
Miller said there have been no “serious” conversations yet — unsurprising given the CFP is just starting up its negotiations. But “when the [inventory] comes up, certainly we’ll engage and have conversations and see what happens.”
Until this year, NBC’s only big-time college football presence was with Notre Dame. But the network now appears to be going after more top college football rights than ever before.
Last year, NBC signed its first major conference media deal in its 100-year history with the Big Ten. The deal’s crown jewel, “Big Ten Saturday Night,” is a new weekly primetime slot for Big Ten football modeled after the wildly successful “Sunday Night Football.”
“Big Ten Saturday Night” has already seen success: The Week 4 Ohio State-Notre Dame matchup garnered 10.6 million viewers — the most of any college football game that week, and NBC’s second-most-watched college football game in history.
In all, there appear to be nine or 10 media companies considering bids for the CFP. In addition to the five that presented last week, four or five others have made contact, CFP executive director Bill Hancock told reporters last week.
The two networks who make up college football’s broadcast duopoly, ESPN and Fox, are the two most intuitive candidates for control of the CFP. Hancock noted last week a streaming partner could be part of the package, as there’s mutual interest in including a streaming element.
The package for the current four-team playoff pays out an average of $470 million per year. For the inaugural 12-team playoffs in 2024 and 2025, ESPN will broadcast the semifinals, quarterfinals, and championship game — as it also has the rights to the New Year’s Six bowls.
The CFP is hearing pitches for rights to the 2024 and 2025 first rounds, which will consist of four games played on campuses.
It’s unclear how much the future package will be worth, however. Last September, experts predicted the 12-team playoff could command up to $2.2 billion annually. However, that number could be overinflated in the current media landscape, a source recently told FOS.