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Saturday, June 22, 2024

On the Brink of Losing NBA Rights, TNT Grabs College Football Playoff Games

  • The agreement comes while TNT’s NBA coverage faces uncertainty.
  • ‘FOS’ previously reported the CFP rights were unrelated to the NBA situation.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, ESPN announced that it will sublicense a portion of the College Football Playoff to TNT.

The channel will receive two first-round games during the playoffs coming after the 2024 and ’25 seasons. Starting with the ’26 season, it will add two quarterfinal games to its roster. 

The agreement is a major win for TNT Sports and its parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery. The 12-team CFP, which Disney will fork over a billion dollars a year to broadcast, is the most valuable property in college sports. TNT was previously not airing any regular-season college football games. But Disney’s ESPN ultimately owns the college football postseason. The network has maintained the rights to the four-team playoff for its entire decade-long lifespan—and, in April, inked an eight-year, $7.8 billion exclusive deal for the expanded 12-team playoff that runs until 2032.

The announcement comes as TNT’s NBA coverage hangs in the balance. The league appears close to reuniting with its former partner, NBC, which aired games from 1990 to 2002. Losing the NBA would be a blow to Warner Bros. Discovery’s portfolio and would likely mark the end of the network’s legendary Inside the NBA in its current form. 

Regardless of where the rights land, TNT has the NBA for at least one more season, ending with the 2025 conference finals.

When the entire CFP was up for grabs, Warner Bros. Discovery was one of the networks in the mix, Front Office Sports previously reported. But any conversations with the CFP were unrelated to its ongoing negotiation over NBA media rights. WBD also holds partial rights to the men’s NCAA basketball tournament along with MLB and the NHL, among others.

Both Warner Bros. Discovery and ESPN are part of the upcoming joint streaming venture with Fox, recently dubbed Venu, which is expected to launch later this year pending regulatory approval.

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