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State of the Screens

What Does College Football’s Playoff Expansion Mean for TV?

By September 9, 2021No Comments

Big news: The college football playoff may expand from 4 to 12 teams as early as the 2023 season.

Why this matters: The four-team playoff has been a success over the past 7 years.  One drawback has been 71% of spots going to four teams (Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, and Oklahoma).  This move increase teams by 200% (4 to 12) and the number of games by 267% (3 to 11).

Annual media rights deal for college football playoff:
1) Current (ESPN) – $608M
2) Estimated w/ expansion – $1.3B to $2.0B

Estimated annual media rights by round (per game) according to Awful Announcing:
1) Semifinal and Championship – $760M ($253M X 3)
2) Quarterfinals – $320M ($80M X 4)
3) Opening round – $200M ($50M X 4)
4) Total – $1.3B ($116M X 11)

Key details for potential expanded playoff:
1) 4 rounds
2) 11 games
3) 2023 at the earliest
4) 183M estimate for total viewers

Flashback: What’s An Eight Team College Football Playoff Worth?

Quick math on ESPN College Football Rights:
1) ESPN subscribers – 86M
2) Annual cost to air college football playoff – $608M
3) ESPN is paying $7.15 per year for each subscriber to watch the college football playoff
4) That breaks down to $2.38 per game

Interesting thought: If ESPN chose to keep rights for the entire playoff, would they move one of the games to ESPN+ to drive subscriber growth?

Video: How A 12-Team College Football Playoff Would Work

More: How college football’s Playoff-centricism shows up on TV, and how broadcasters are trying to fix it

Michael Beach

Michael Beach

Michael Beach is the Chief Executive Officer of Cross Screen Media, a media analytics and software company that enables marketers to plan, activate, and measure CTV and linear TV at the local level. Michael is also the founder and editor of State of the Screens, a weekly newsletter focused on video advertising that is a must-read for thought leaders in the advertising industry. He has appeared in such publications as PBS Frontline, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Axios, CNBC and Bloomberg, and on NPR’s Planet Money podcast.

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