TNT Explodes Onto College Football Scene, Potential Collision Course With the NFL

    TNT has struck a deal to televise College Football Playoff games beginning this year. But why is the network entering the CFB landscape?

    On Wednesday, TNT Sports announced a five-year agreement with ESPN to broadcast two first-round College Football Playoff games beginning in 2024 and then add two quarterfinal games each year starting with the 2026 season.

    TNT hasn’t aired a college football game since 2006, so why are they entering the arena now?

    TNT Lands Deal for College Football Playoffs

    The same day the deal was announced, a Sports Business Journal report was released stating the NBA is formalizing media rights contracts with ESPN, NBC, and Amazon, putting TNT’s NBA rights at risk beyond its current contract, which ends following the 2024-2025 season.

    NBA coverage anchors the network’s on-air products, as most of TNT’s broadcast talent is centered around the league. Losing NBA rights would likely mean the end of the famed Inside the NBA show, hosted by Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaquille O’Neal.

    By expanding into college football, TNT diversifies its portfolio, making sure all its eggs aren’t in one basket. Despite not airing regular-season college football or basketball games, it will carry both sports’ tournaments. TNT partnered with CBS to televise the NCAA Tournament in 2011 and has a contract through the 2032 event.

    KEEP READING: 2024 Strength of Schedule for All 134 FBS Teams

    This offseason, ESPN secured an extension as the exclusive rights-holder for CFP broadcasts through 2031, averaging $1.3 billion in rights fees per season — TNT also bid on the deal. Now sublicensing two contests in the first round of the new 12-team CFP format, TNT has put itself in competition with the NFL.

    The first round takes place on Dec. 20 and 21, with two games on each day. It’s unclear if TNT will have a matchup on each day or two on one, but if any of its contests land on Saturday, it will attempt to steal eyes from two Week 16 NFL games:

    • Texans at Chiefs, 1:00 p.m. ET, NBC
    • Steelers at Raves, 4:30 p.m. ET, FOX

    College Football Network has you covered with the latest news and analysis, rankings, transfer portal information, top 10 returning players, the 2024 college football season schedule, and much more!

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