Branding the World of Sports

ESPN deal means College Football playoff is coming

Posted by ZA on November 19, 2008

If you are a huge college football fan (like me) who has been waiting for college football to institute a playoff system, then today is your lucky day. Because the first domino has fallen in what will be a series of events that lead to a college football playoff.

The BCS and ESPN inked a deal to give ESPN television, radio and internet rights to four major BCS Championship games from 2011 to 2014. ESPN will now broadcast the Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl, Sugar Bowl, and BCS National Championship Game. The Rose Bowl is the fifth BCS game, and already locked into a deal with ESPN’s parent network, ABC Sports.  ESPN is paying $125 million per year for the rights, which is 50% higher than what Fox is currently paying.

ESPN’s access to 98 million homes is slightly less than network television, but it is their commitment to total sports programming that will be the catalyst.  The old boys network that controls bowl games is starting to get long in the tooth anyway, but with ESPN pushing forward changes are going to happen quickly.

Here are the steps that I said must happen for ESPN to get us to college football playoff:
1. ESPN lands BCS television rights. DONE
2. BCS adds “plus one” championship game. PENDING
3. BCS expands to add new bowl games including Cotton Bowl. PENDING
4. BCS develops an 8-team playoff to decide the National Championship. PENDING

The accelerator in this deal in ESPN, although it doesn’t hurt that President Obama is going to “throw (his) weight around a little” behind the idea of a college football playoff. ESPN is a year-round sports network, so they can sell advertising behind programming developed to highlight a college football playoff. ESPN will carry the torch to get a playoff, because they stand to benefit the most from it. Fox never had that incentive, because their sports programming was just one facet of their lineup.

In addition being the creator and driving force behind a college football playoff earns ESPN another place in history of sports. They helped create what will become the greatest sporting event on the country, surpassing the Superbowl in popularity and television viewership. Because the combined viewers of a playoff will be more than one game Superbowl, or any other sporting event in US soil.

Plus, you don’t think that ESPN wants what CBS has? March Madness is the biggest sporting event on television dial each year, and ESPN gets stuck with the NIT (aka: the second banana). This is their chance to create, market and profit from a marquee sports event. And the first domino just fell…a college football playoff is on the way.

One Response to “ESPN deal means College Football playoff is coming”

  1. […] sponsorship aides charityAlan on Endorsement dollars rolling in for Michael PhelpsESPN deal means College Football playoff is coming « BrandDunk on BCS moving to ESPN/ABC to start a playoffchumpman on Most Expensive […]

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