ESPN secures College Football Playoff rights through 2031 with $7.8 billion deal

The College Football Playoff and ESPN have announced a groundbreaking $7.8 billion deal that will see the network hold exclusive rights to the expanded postseason until the 2031 season. The new six-year agreement will pay the CFP and participating conferences $1.3 billion annually.

The national championship game is set to move to ABC starting in 2026, as part of the agreement. The CFP executive director, Bill Hancock, expressed his excitement for the future of college football, highlighting the extensive coverage ESPN provides to the sport.

The conferences have agreed to at least a 12-team playoff starting in 2026, with discussions on potential further expansion on hold for now. ESPN has been the primary broadcaster for the championship game for the first 10 years of the playoff and will continue to be for the final two years of the original 12-year deal.

In 2026, the title game will transition to ABC, a decision made collaboratively between the CFP and ESPN. The deal also allows ESPN to sublicense a select number of games to other networks.

While there was initially an expectation for multiple media partners after the current ESPN deal expires, ESPN emerged as the sole rights holder due to limited aggressive buyers in the market. Media consultant Patrick Crakes stated that ESPN's heavy investment in college football made it the expected winner in the rights negotiations.

Overall, the deal marks a significant milestone for the CFP and college football, securing long-term financial stability and broadcast coverage for the sport. The transition to ABC for the championship game in 2026 signifies a new chapter in the partnership between the CFP and ESPN.


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