Jan 10, 2023; Los Angeles, CA, USA; The College Football Playoff National Championship trophy at CFP Champions press conference at Los Angeles Airport Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With expansion on the horizon and with ESPN’s current deal expiring in 2026, there is no shortage of interest in the College Football Playoff’s media rights.

And according to a new report, there’s a somewhat unlikely candidate entering the race, with The New York Post‘s Andrew Marchand reporting that Warner Bros. Discovery “could be a big player” for the CFP’s rights.

While ESPN maintains the playoff’s rights for the next three years, it’s unclear how the network will handle the playoff expanding from four teams to 12 teams — and thus three games to 11 games — beginning in 2024. ESPN could either keep the rights to all 11 games in 2024 and 2025, or allow other entities to get involved.

As for Warner Bros. Discovery’s potential involvement, Marchand writes that the company “may be one to watch because it is now better positioned financially after paring back with cuts and now may be looking to spend.” While WBD is looking to reup its longstanding NBA deal, there aren’t many other rights available in the coming years, making the CFP an even more attractive commodity.

Marchand also noted that WBD — which consists of TNT, TBS and the Max streaming service, which launched its Bleacher Report-branded sports tier last week — could leverage its current ownership of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament rights into potential sales opportunities. WBD currently owns the rights to the tournament, which it partners with CBS on, through 2032.

According to Marchand, ESPN and Fox are still considered the favorites for the the CFP rights, especially considering their ownership of much of college football’s regular season. CFP executive director Bill Hancock has also publicly acknowledged that there could be a streaming element to the expanded rights.

In addition to ESPN and Fox, Amazon, NBC and Apple are considered candidates for the CFP’s rights. Warner Bros. Discovery’s apparent interest adds another option, which should only benefit the playoff’s leverage in negotiations with all involved.

[The New York Post]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.