SBD/November 9, 2012/Media

Sources: ESPN Bids $500M Per Year For Four-Team College Football Playoff

BCS' rights fee likely will approach what NCAA makes on March Madness
ESPN is close to securing media rights for the entire college football playoff system, with industry sources pegging the new 12-year BCS package at $500M a year. That means ESPN would own college football's postseason for a total of $7.3B over 12 years, beginning with the '14 season. That figure, which averages to around $608M per year, takes into account the $215M annual payout ESPN has committed to the "contract" bowls -- the Rose presented by Vizio, Champions and Discover Orange -- in addition to the playoff package. Sources say the TV committee, made up of five commissioners, must ultimately approve the deal before it becomes official. A final version of the contract has not yet gone before the TV committee. However, sources say ESPN and the BCS commissioners have reached a broad agreement that will keep the games on ESPN, which still has two seasons left on its current deal. "We are in the midst of conversations with BCS representatives to continue our relationship," said ESPN VP/Communications Mike Soltys. The BCS' rights fee will approach the money the NCAA makes for March Madness. The NCAA's package with CBS and Turner pays an average of $771M annually over 14 years. In total, the BCS package includes 12 national championship games and 24 semifinal games within the new college football four-team playoff that begins with the '14 season, as well as the rights to three "access" bowls that will be in the BCS mix: likely the Tostitos Fiesta, Chick-fil-A and AT&T Cotton (Ourand & Smith, SportsBusiness Journal). CBSSPORTS.com's Dennis Dodd wrote conference commissioners "went into their annual BCS meeting in April thinking the valuation was at $350 million per year." After listening to consultants, the value "had shot through the roof." This is the "tangible proof of the windfall awaiting college football." However, the price point is "less of an issue at this point than the structure" (CBSSPORTS.com, 11/8).
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