ESPN’s college football playoff agreement is all about the money

ESPN strikes again! The worldwide leader in sports entertainment took a firm grip on the future broadcast rights of the new college football playoff format by announcing a new 12-year agreement for the broadcast rights for the national championship, national semifinals and any other related bowl game for college football's new postseason set to start in the 2014 season.

This will give ESPN exclusive broadcast rights to the Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl and Orange Bowl as well as the bowl games to be determined to be affiliated with the new postseason format, still to be determined. Sports Business Journal reports the agreement could be valued at $500 million. An ESPN statement did not confirm this value.

According to the press release confirming the agreement has been reached in principle (thus no dollar figures just yet), ESPN will get the right to the games as well as related programming.

Via ESPN's press release:

Specifically, the arrangement would provide ESPN with rights to:

  • Championship Games: Coverage of each year’s championship game pitting the semifinal winners against each other on the Monday at least seven days after the semifinals at sites to be determined by the commissioners
  • Semifinals: Coverage of two semifinals each year matching four seeded teams identified by a selection committee to be named by the commissioners. The semifinals will be rotated among six bowl games consisting of three “contract bowls” and three “host bowls” to be determined by the commissioners.
  • Additional bowls in the playoff format: Coverage of all remaining games from the sites of the three “host bowls” during the years those bowls are not semifinal sites. Note: ESPN had previously secured the rights to the Rose, Sugar and Orange Bowl games for the same 12-year period (through January 2026).
  • Related programming: Exclusive rights to branded content throughout each season, including the official team-selection announcement.

None of this should come as much of a surprise of course. ESPN had the exclusive negotiating window for the media rights for the new postseason plan, as current rights holders for the BCS broadcast rights right now. There was little chance ESPN would pass up on the chance to be the exclusive rights holders for the broadcasting of the college football playoff when it becomes the method used to determine college football's national champion.

Kevin McGuire is the national college football writer for and host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast.

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About Kevin McGuire

Contributor to's College Football Talk, Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Host of the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher Radio and iHeart Radio. FWAA member and Philadelphia-area resident.