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College Football Playoff, ESPN Discussing New Rights Contract


The College Football Playoff and sports media brand ESPN are currently engaged in negotiations that would see ESPN maintain their position as the sole rights holder for the College Football Playoff event for the next eight years, according to ESPN’s Heather Dinich and Pete Thamel.

Such a deal would the final two years on the current CFP contract plus a new six-year agreement for the next iteration of the playoff, per the report, and if the media brand remains the sole rights holder, it would be a stark difference from what the 10 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick had originally wanted, which was multiple broadcast partners similar to the model that the NFL has in place.

Those entities were in agreement that the multiple-entity structure is what would be best for college football.

The report indicates that ESPN is considering paying approximately $1.3 billion for the rights to the new six-year deal starting in the 2026 season. ESPN’s current deal as the sole rights holder, a 12-year contract, will officially expire following the 2025 season.

It is a critical time to work out a new deal, mostly because it is close to expiration, but also because the CFP will officially expand from 4 teams to 12 in Fall of 2024.

CFP executive director Bill Hancock said the organization is no longer in the exclusive negotiating window with ESPN, saying: “I have to say, this is a negotiation, and so I’m not going to be able to tell you much about it,” Hancock said. “We’re happy with where we are and not quite to the finish line yet.”

Hancock added that if ESPN were to sublicense any games, the presidents would have to approve it, adding that all parties are eager to finalize a new deal.

“Don’t have a timeline,” Hancock said. “We’re getting close.”



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