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

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


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