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Volume 21 No. 43
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Following the money trail of the College Football Playoff

ESPN’s rights to the College Football Playoff actually involve four separate 12-year contracts. The network has unique contracts with the Rose, Sugar and Orange bowls, as well as a $5.7 billion contract with the College Football Playoff. When those bowls serve as a semifinal, as the Rose and Sugar do this season, those payments are included in the CFP deal. The Orange Bowl is not a semifinal, so ESPN will pay an additional $55 million for that game this season.

The figures below show how the revenue is distributed and how much revenue each conference can expect beyond that amount, with the five major conferences receiving the most. They will take a base of $50 million each year.
Using the ACC as an example exhibits how the revenue is broken down.
Photo by: Getty Images

The ACC, like each of the five major conferences, will receive a flat fee of $50 million. If Florida State qualifies for the four-team playoff, the league would receive another $6 million. That would elevate the ACC’s cash haul to $56 million.

The CFP also pays $2 million for each team in a playoff or CFP bowl game for expenses, which brings the total to $58 million. On top of that, the ACC would take half of the $55 million rights fee that ESPN pays separately for the Orange Bowl, or $27.5 million.

In all, the ACC’s total revenue from the CFP and the Orange Bowl, in this model, would be $85.5 million, which would then be distributed among the league’s members. By comparison, the conference’s share in the BCS started with a base payout of $28 million and granted an additional $6.3 million for each at-large team.