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Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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The College Football Playoff Is Becoming One of the Hottest Media Properties

  • CBS and Warner Bros. Discovery have had preliminary discussions with the College Football Playoff, sources confirmed to FOS.
  • ESPN, Fox, NBC, Apple, and Amazon have expressed interest, FOS previously reported.
The CFP's media rights have garnered interest from every major broadcaster and streamer.
Alex Martin/IndyStar

The expanded College Football Playoff is quickly becoming one of the most coveted sports properties in the entire media industry.

Every major broadcaster and streaming partner has expressed interest in the future 12-team College Football Playoff, FOS has confirmed. 

The CFP’s current contract is up in 2026, and has begun having early-stage discussions — though FOS has not heard of any networks submitting formal bids. However, the CFP has expressed interest in a multi-network CFP rights deal, similar to that of the NFL.

The latest networks to be revealed: CBS and Warner Bros. Discovery, who have had preliminary discussions with the CFP, sources told Front Office Sports. The New York Post first reported on the involvement of Warner Bros. Discovery.

Right now, CBS and Warner Bros. Discovery do not have a major presence in college football — the most notable is CBS’ weekly afternoon “SEC on CBS” game, which ends after this season. But they do have the rights to the Division I men’s basketball tournament, the most expensive and most-watched college championship outside the CFP. 

The two most likely networks are ESPN and Fox, which made in-person presentations to the CFP board two weeks ago. 

The two have spent the last several years jockeying to become college football’s broadcast duopoly. ESPN will look to maintain its dominance with some of the playoff, while Fox will hope to elevate its prowess in the sport.

The broadcasters were joined at these meetings by fellow linear networks NBC and CBS, sources confirmed to FOS. While also not a major player in the college football space, NBC made a big leap this year with its weekly “Big Ten Saturday Night” broadcast in addition to its traditional partnership with Notre Dame.

Amazon (who was also at the meetings) and Apple have had discussions with the CFP as well, FOS also reported last week. 

The networks both have inked deals with pro sports including the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football,” MLB, and MLS. However, they have yet to break into the top-tier college football market. They’re most likely to be in the running for the first round of the CFP, which will consist of four games played on college campuses — the playoff will likely want to be on a linear network for later rounds.

Last year, industry experts estimated that the CFP could be worth $2.2 billion annually — though that number is likely overinflated in the current climate, sources have since told FOS. The sheer volume of bidders, however, ensures the price will be high.

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