ESPN reaches 12-year deal to air college football playoffs

By Jerry Hinnen | Staff Writer

There will be plenty of changes going from the BCS to college football's new four-team playoff, but how the games will air won't be one of them.

ESPN announced Tuesday it has reached an agreement with "the group that will administer the new college football playoff" to broadcast that playoff and each of its six associated bowls for 12 seasons, from 2014 through 2025.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, but previously reported the playoff had been valued at $475 million per season. The Wall Street Journal confirmed Tuesday that the total price tag for the 12-year deal reached approximately $5.64 billion, "about $470 million annually."

The agreement also gives ESPN the rights to "branded content throughout each season, including the official team-selection announcement." That announcement would reveal both the four teams chosen for the playoff's semifinals and the eight more chosen for the other four associated bowls, and could be presented as an NCAA Tournament-style selection show.

ESPN is currently in the third season of a four-year deal to broadcast the BCS.

One other minor note from the announcement: Instead of the previous nomenclature for the six playoff bowls being divided into "contract" and "access" bowls, the release refers to them as "contract" and "host" bowls.

The "contract" bowls will be the Sugar (Big 12 vs. SEC), Rose (Big Ten vs. Pac-12), and Orange (ACC vs. Notre Dame/Big Ten/SEC), with the three "host" bowls' available bids -- a number that could range from as few as two to as high as six, depending on the bowls' semifinal rotations -- to be divided amongst the selection committee's highest-ranked team from outside the five contract conferences and the remaining highest-ranked teams from any league. The Fiesta, Chick-Fil-A, Cotton and Capital One Bowls are believed to be the principal contenders to be chosen as the three "host" bowls.

For more on the economics of the coming playoff, listen to the Nov. 16 edition of the "Doddcast" with Dennis Dodd.

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