Michigan College Football Playoff Syndication: Detroit Free Press

TNT Sports is getting into college football in a most unexpected way.

On Wednesday, TNT and ESPN announced that TNT would sublicense College Football Playoff games from ESPN in each season from 2024 through 2028.

Per the announcement, TNT is picking up two first-round games in 2024 and 2025. From 2026 through 2028, TNT will air two quarterfinals in addition to the two first-round games.

“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,” said Luis Silberwasser, Chairman and CEO, TNT Sports. “TNT Sports aims to delight fans and drive maximum reach and engagement for these marquee games.”

“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,” said Rosalyn Durant, ESPN executive vice president, programming & acquisitions. “We’re confident in the reach and promotion that this new agreement will provide as we enter the new, expanded playoff era.”

“It is exciting to add TNT Sports, another highly respected broadcaster, to the College Football Playoff family,” said Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the College Football Playoff. “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.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

ESPN will get to choose two first-round games before TNT gets to make their game selection.

The games acquired by TNT Sports will air on TNT “among additional TNT Sports distribution platforms,” which keeps the door open for alternate broadcasts on truTV and streaming on Max. ESPN, TNT, and Fox are teaming up on a new live sports streaming service called Venu Sports, expected to launch later this year.

When ESPN announced its new deal with the Playoff in March, the ability for the company to sublicense games was included, which immediately piqued interest around the sports media landscape. Last year, TNT Sports was rumored as a potential “big player” in the bidding for the Playoff, but it never appeared the company would come close to knocking ESPN off its perch.

TNT picking these games up is another blow to traditional college football broadcast partners CBS, Fox, and NBC, which all missed out on part of the Playoff package earlier this year and have now missed out on potentially sublicensing games from ESPN. It’s also a loss for streamers like Prime Video, also rumored to be interested in the Playoff rights that landed with ESPN.

This year, the Playoff will face competition from the NFL for the first time, with the league adding a Saturday game in December on the first weekend of the Playoff.

Beginning with the 2024 edition, the College Football Playoff is expanding to 12 teams, with further expansion to 16 already rumored.


About Joe Lucia

I hate your favorite team. I also sort of hate most of my favorite teams.