CFP Extends $7.8 Billion TV Deal with ESPN, Financial Disparities Mount in College Athletics

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stakeholders have inked a six-year, $7.8 billion television extension with ESPN, according to multiple reports, a deal that stands to escalate the financial disparities atop intercollegiate athletics. Key details around the championship’s ultimate format, however, remain undecided.

The CFP was already set to expand to a 12-team format for this upcoming season, and then potentially grow larger in 2026-27. While the future size of the field remains unresolved, Friday’s announcement meets an internal deadline that was set to ensure the CFP could agree to a broadcast contract extension with ESPN through 2031-32. The Athletic has reported that even if the playoff expands to 14 teams, ESPN would not pay more for the additional inventory.

Nine FBS conferences and Notre Dame unanimously agreed to the new ESPN deal, while the Pac-12 Conference, which will soon feature just Washington State and Oregon State, held out on account of its uncertain future.

Under the new CFP arrangement, Big Ten and SEC members are set to each receive about $21 million annually, according to multiple reports, while ACC programs get approximately $13 million and Big 12 members $12 million. Notre Dame, which is independent, is expected to receive roughly $12 million as well. ESPN and Yahoo were first to report the news.

The new payouts are in part predicated on those conferences’ ability to produce CFP contenders in the past as well as their pending expansion; they could be adjusted in the future based on either conference performance or the next round in college athletics’ ongoing conference reshuffling.

Meanwhile, Group of Five schools will split 9% of the earnings, which works out to slightly less than $2 million per institution. Previously, Power Five programs each received about $5 million per year from the four-team CFP model.

The new, disproportionate payout structure among the richest four conferences sets the stage for continued fighting over whether to expand the playoff to 14 teams in 2026. The setup also allows the Big Ten and SEC bargaining power in negotiating, for example, a set number of automatic entries or first-round byes.

Negotiations were complicated by the current cycle of conference realignment, which has included the dissolution of the Pac-12; the Big Ten’s addition of Oregon, Southern California, UCLA and Washington; and Oklahoma and Texas joining the SEC.

The 12-team CFP format for 2024 and 2025 will be made up of five automatic qualifiers and seven at-large entries, ensuring a spot for a Group of Five champ now that the Power Five has become a Power Four.

Already, the new financial structure will continue to give Big Ten and SEC teams an advantage, while serving as an additional incentive to lure other schools.

The SEC took in $852.5 million in total revenue during its 2023 fiscal year, according to its most recent tax filings, a $50 million increase over FY22. Last month, the SEC and Big Ten formed a joint advisory group “to address the significant challenges facing college athletics and the opportunities for the betterment of the student-athlete experience.”

2024-03-15 18:24:02
#College #Football #Playoff #Financial #Distribution #Tallies #Set

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