How revenue would be distributed in a new model was not part of the detailed proposal the CFP unveiled Thursday. The 12-team model is at least three steps away from final approval from the university presidents and chancellors who oversee the CFP.
And it could be six seasons away from being implemented.
The current TV contract with ESPN runs through the 2025-26 season. Until then the CFP cannot take its new format to market. If expansion comes before the contract ends, a deal will have to be struck between ESPN and the CFP.
“We’re supportive of our partners at the College Football Playoff as they look toward expansion and seek even more opportunities to grow the passion and excitement for the sport and this signature championship event,” the network said Friday in a statement to AP.
The current format provides ESPN with three playoff games per season, two semifinals and a championship game, plus the rights to four other marquee bowl games that have no bearing on the national championship.
The proposed expansion creates 11 playoff games per season.
While viewership for the CFP has never matched the record levels reached when the playoff made its debut after the 2014 regular season, it is still arguably ESPN’s most valuable property.
Even this past season, when Alabama’s blowout victory against Ohio State on Jan. 11 was the least watched title game in the seven-year history of the CFP at 18.7 million viewers, the three playoff games still drew the largest audience for any cable network (an average of 19.1 million per game) since the previous year’s CFP.
Before last season, the six previous College Football Playoff championship games averaged nearly 28 million viewers for ESPN.
Navigate’s projections are derived using the media rights value increases in recent deals made by the NFL, NHL, Southeastern Conference and other sport properties. Those deals increased the average value per viewer to $10.40, according to Navigate.
Assuming TV viewership increases by 25% each round of the playoff until the national Championship, which is in line with most seasons, Navigate estimated total viewers for all rounds of a 12-team CFP would be 183 million.
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FILE - College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock gestures as he speaks during a news conference before an NCAA college football game between Miami and North Carolina in Miami Gardens, Fla., in this Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018, file photo. The CFP would expand from four to 12 teams, with six spots reserved for the highest ranked conference champions, under a proposal that will be considered next week by the league commissioners who manage the postseason system, a person familiar with announcement told The Associated Press on Thursday, June 10, 2021. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the CFP has not yet released details. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
Credit: Wilfredo Lee
Credit: Wilfredo Lee