College Football Playoff, TNT Sports reach 5-year sublicensing agreement; TNT Sports to begin broadcasting 2 first-round games in 2024

HOUSTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 5: Michigan Wolverines Team Arrival at George Bush Intercontinental Airport on January 5, 2024 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by CFP/Getty Images)

TNT Sports will televise two games of the newly formatted 12-team College Football Playoff through a five-year sublicense with ESPN starting this fall, both announced Wednesday.

Beginning with the 2024-25 seasons, TNT Sports will broadcast two first-round games, according to a release. TNT Sports will air two quarterfinal games additionally in 2026-28 through the agreement.

Additional details about programming plans for the College Football Playoff “will be announced at a later date,” according to a release.

“It is exciting to add TNT Sports, another highly respected broadcaster, to the College Football Playoff family,” Executive Director of the College Football Playoff Bill Hancock stated in a release. “Sports fans across the country are intimately 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.”

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According to a release, TNT Sports will be “the primary network” televising its select games, and it will also distribute coverage among its additional platforms.

The playoff field expanded from its original four teams to 12 for the first time since it was implemented before the 2014 season.

What’s different under the new format include a range of changes. Notably, the entire first round will be played on-campus while the four highest-ranking conference champions will make up the first four seeds and receive byes in the opening round.

“We’re delighted to reach this agreement with ESPN, providing TNT Sports the opportunity to showcase these College Football Playoff games on our platforms for years to come,” TNT Sports Chairman and CEO Luis Silberwasser stated in a release. “TNT Sports aims to delight fans and drive maximum reach and engagement for these marquee games.”

The first round of the expanded playoff is scheduled for Dec. 20-21, then the quarterfinals will take place at familiar New Year’s Six locations, including the Fiesta Bowl, Peach Bowl, Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl, before the semifinals at the Orange Bowl on Jan. 9, 2025, and Cotton Bowl on Jan. 10, 2025, all leading up to the national championship in Atlanta on Jan. 20, 2025.

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It’s been a historic offseason for the College Football Playoff. It and ESPN agreed to a new media rights deal in March that will keep the playoff on the network through 2031.

The College Football Playoff also signed a six-year contract establishing a revenue distribution plan. That solidified the 12-team format through at least 2026, and the possibility of more teams joining the field could be a reality come that season.

ESPN “will also continue to manage the sponsorship program for the presentation of the CFP,” according to a release.

“ESPN is pleased to sublicense to TNT Sports a select number of early round games of the College Football Playoff, an event we’ve helped to grow – alongside the CFP – into one of the preeminent championships,” ESPN executive vice president of programming & acquisitions Rosalyn Durant stated in a release. “We’re confident in the reach and promotion that this new agreement will provide as we enter the new, expanded playoff era.”