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Warner Bros. Discovery Labeled ‘Bidder to Watch’ in Next College Football Playoff TV Deal

ESPN currently holds the rights for the property for the 2024 and 2025 campaigns, with a reported $470 million per year.

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College Football Playoff
College Football Playoff Logo - Courtesy: College Football Playoff | Bryant-Denny Stadium - Courtesy: Danley Sound Labs

Next season, the College Football Playoff (CFP) will expand from four teams to 12 teams, meaning that there will be additional games up for grabs, and Warner Bros. Discovery could be a player in the negotiations.

ESPN currently holds the rights for the property for the 2024 and 2025 campaigns, with a reported $470 million per year. The network could propose broadcasting all of the playoff games and renegotiate its deal, something that could be more facile considering the existing rights package. Conversely, the network could permit another entity to bid on the coveted package, and there are various interested parties rumored to be considering negotiating.

FOX Sports has the potential to be a landing spot for some of these games, especially considering that the network has rights for games within the Big Ten and Big 12 conferences.

Moreover, Warner Bros. Discovery may be interested in adding some of these games to its sports programming portfolio, which recently became available through the Max streaming platform via an exclusive add-on.

Andrew Marchand of The New York Post notes that the company is in an advantageous financial position and ready to spend again, focusing on extending its deal with the NBA. Additionally, the company has contracts with MLB, the NHL, All Elite Wrestling, and U.S. Soccer, and also works with CBS Sports to broadcast the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament.

Unlike other entities though, Warner Bros. Discovery does not broadcast any college football, and it could look to pair its March Madness offering with the CFP to leverage the college advertising space.

While ESPN and FOX Sports are reportedly the favorites to land the expanded slate of CFP games, there is a chance that Amazon, Apple, and NBC Sports could all end up involved in the bidding. All of these platforms have expanded their sports portfolio in recent years and could aim to become more involved in the aggregate media landscape by coming to terms on a deal.

The resolution has yet to be decided at the moment, but it will likely prove consequential as it pertains to the path to the National Championship Game. Most of these companies will have preliminary discussions with the CFP, but the decision currently stands in the purview of the “Worldwide Leader” since it owns all of the playoff rights until the end of the 2025 season.

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NTT IndyCar Series Reportedly Nearing Media Rights Deal with FOX Sports

Terms of the agreement remain unknown, but it has been reported that IndyCar was looking to have one partner for its full season within its forthcoming media rights cycle.

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Courtesy: NTT IndyCar Series

The NTT IndyCar Series, which includes the Indianapolis 500 and other races throughout the year, is reportedly closing in on signing a media rights deal with FOX Sports, according to a new report from Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal. The deal is reportedly expected to be announced “within days,” a development that comes after IndyCar expert Tony Donohue reported that FOX Sports offered IndyCar a complete network television package starting with the 2025 season and beyond. Potential occupants for IndyCar Rights are said to have been down to FOX and NBC in recent weeks, the latter of which is in the final year of its three-season contract with the open-wheel car racing league.

Terms of the agreement remain unknown, but it has been reported that IndyCar was looking to have one partner for its full season within its forthcoming media rights cycle. If this ends up being the case, it would presumably end the property’s relationship with NBC following the conclusion of the racing season in September. Penske Entertainment owns the NTT IndyCar Series, which attains a reported $20 million per year in media rights fees from NBC Sports.

News of the reported agreement between IndyCar and FOX Sports comes after the Indianapolis 500 averaged 5.34 million viewers on NBC and Peacock despite a four-hour weather delay. The broadcast marked the largest audience for the Indy 500 in the last three years and was also up 8% year-over-year from the 2023 iteration of the race.

INDYCAR removed the local blackout of the race in Indianapolis, Ind. and secured an 18.15 household rating and 54 share in the locale. The first six races of the 2024 IndyCar season averaged a total audience delivery of 1.95 million viewers, five of which were televised on NBC while the other one was on USA Network.

NASCAR announced new seven-year media rights deals with FOX Sports, NBC Sports, Amazon’s Prime Video and Warner Bros. Discovery beginning in 2025, collectively worth a reported total of $7.7 billion. FOX Sports will no longer air the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend because of how the new NASCAR media rights deal is structured, with the race moving to Prime Video.

Media rights for Formula 1 are currently held by ESPN and expire following the 2025 racing season, and there is reported interest from Apple to bid $2 billion per year for exclusive global rights to the property. FOX Sports previously broadcast Formula 1 races through its SPEED Network for 17 years through the conclusion of the 2012 season.

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NBC, TNT Sports to Join FOX Sports as Big East Basketball Partners According to Report

For Warner Bros. Discovery/TNT Sports, this will be the third sports media rights package it will have secured since reports started to leak out it will most likely have a reduced NBA package or no package at all.

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As jockeying continues for any available live sports programming, NBC and TNT Sports are reportedly on the verge of adding coverage of men’s and women’s basketball from the Big East. A report from Andrew Marchand of The Athletic says the two networks are expected to join current Big East partner FOX Sports in airing games starting with the 2025-26 season.

The report says while no agreement has been finalized, it appears FOX Sports will remain the top partner and is expected to continue airing the Big East Tournament, although Marchand says NBC and Peacock could end up with some tournament games. It also notes NBC plans to air most of its Big East games on Peacock.

What is not known yet is how CBS, another current Big East partner, may factor into the deal. According to Jon Lewis of Sports Media Watch, the few games CBS has carried are sublicensed from FOX Sports.

For Warner Bros. Discovery/TNT Sports, this will be the third sports media rights package it will have secured since reports started to leak out it will most likely have a reduced NBA package or no package at all. Earlier this week, the company announced a 10-year deal for the US rights to the French Open tennis tournament. That followed the announcement in May they had reached a 5-year deal to sublicense College Football Playoff games from ESPN. TNT Sports also carries NASCAR and has a partnership with CBS for NCAA Tournament games.

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Jen Lada to Appear on Around the Horn

Lada will become the 58th panelist all-time on the show.

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Graphic for Jen Lada appearing on Around the Horn
Graphic Courtesy: ESPN

Jen Lada, ESPN host and reporter and also part of the morning show team at ESPN Milwaukee, will make her debut later today on Around the Horn. Lada will become the 58th panelist all-time on the show.

In her time with ESPN, Lada has been seen on College GameDay, College Football Live, SportsCenter, First Take, Outside the Lines, E:60 and more. Lada started with ESPN in 2015 and she joined College GameDay as a features reporter and College Football Live as a host in 2016.

Prior to ESPN, Lada was an anchor and reporter for two and a half years in the Chicago area for Comcast SportsNet.

Around the Horn has been on the air since November, 2002. Woody Paige is the all-time leader in guest appearances on the show, which is nearing 3,000 times. Jackie MacMullan has the record for most appearances by a female panelist, she has appeared on 890 episodes.

Around the Horn is hosted by Tony Reali and airs weekdays at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN and on the ESPN App.

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