ESPN Sublicenses Select College Football Playoff Games to TNT, Max Streaming

ESPN and TNT Sports have reached a five-year deal for TNT Sports to sublicense and broadcast (and stream via B/R Sports on Max) for the first time select college football playoff games from ESPN, beginning with the upcoming college football season.

TNT Sports is better known for broadcasting basketball, including the NBA. The network is currently broadcasting the NBA playoffs, after live-streaming/broadcasting the NCAA College Basketball March Madness Tournament.

This coming NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-A, season will mark the expansion of the post-season playoffs from four teams to 12. The four highest-ranking conference champions will be seeded 1-4 and receive first-round byes. The first round will consist of four games played at home campus venues, with teams seeded 5-8 hosting teams seeded 9-12.

TNT Sports will present two first-round games during the 2024 and 2025 seasons. In addition to the first-round games, TNT Sports will add two quarterfinal games each year, beginning with the 2026 season through the 2028 season.

TNT will be the primary network televising the sublicensed CFP games, among additional TNT Sports distribution platforms, which include B/R Sports (Bleacher Report Sports) on the Max streaming platform.

ESPN will present all other playoff games on its networks, including the annual CFP National Championship Game in Atlanta. ESPN will also continue to manage the sponsorship program for the presentation of the CFP.

“We’re confident in the reach and promotion that this new agreement will provide as we enter the new, expanded playoff era,” Rosalyn Durant, EVP of programming and acquisitions at ESPN, said in a statement.

Bill Hancock, executive director of the college football playoffs, said the availability of college football on TNT shouldn’t be an issue in light of the network’s basketball prowess.

“Sports fans across the country are familiar with their work across a wide variety of sports properties over the past two decades, and we look forward to seeing what new and innovative ideas they bring to the promotion and delivery of these games,” Hancock said.

Key dates for the 2024-25 CFP schedule:

  • CFP First Round, Dec. 20-21
  • CFP Quarterfinals:
    • Vrbo Fiesta Bowl, Dec. 31
    • Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Jan.1, 2025
    • Rose Bowl Game Presented by Prudential, Jan. 1
    • Allstate Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1
  • CFP Semifinals:
    • Capital One Orange Bowl, Jan. 9
    • Goodyear Cotton Bowl, Jan. 10
  • CFP National Championship Game, Jan. 20 (Atlanta)

ESPN Inks $7.8 Billion College Football Playoff Rights Extension That Includes Streaming

ESPN March 19 announced a six-year, reportedly $7.8 billion extension with the NCAA that gives the Disney-owned sports network exclusive rights to the college football playoffs for the 2026 through 2032 seasons. ESPN has held exclusive rights to the playoffs since 2015.

ESPN will expand its current package for the final two years (through the 2025-26 season), adding all four of the new First Round games each year to the network’s existing New Year’s Six (now Quarterfinals and Semifinals) and the CFP National Championship rights in the new 12-team playoff that will launch this fall.

Beginning in the 2026-27 season, ESPN will broadcast the CFP National Championship on ABC in addition to offering the game across ESPN platforms, which include the ESPN+ subscription streaming service and all other Disney direct-to-consumer streaming offerings.

ESPN is joining Fox Sports and Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max platform for a exclusive sports joint venture app launching in the fall. ESPN will reboot the existing ESPN+ streaming service in a new standalone platform bowing in 2025.

“ESPN has worked very closely with the College Football Playoff over the past decade to build one of the most prominent events in American sports,” Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN chairman, said in a statement. “This agreement further solidifies ESPN as the home of college football, as well as the destination for the vast majority of major college championships for the next eight years.”

Subscribe HERE to the FREE Media Play News Daily Newsletter!