ESPN has renewed its lucrative contract with the College Football Playoff (CFP) worth an estimated $7.8bn in total, according to sources cited by the Associated Press (AP) and The Athletic.

Various media reports from the US suggest that pen has been put to paper on the deal, which will see ESPN cover the annual invitational knockout tournament, which decides the winner of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).

College sports have a huge following in the US, with many American football fans following both an NFL side and a university team, the latter due to alumni affiliation, geography or simple preference.

According to AP, ESPN will cover the tournament every year until the 2031/32 season, with each yearly broadcast worth around $1.3bn annually, rounding up to the aforementioned $7.8bn for the full duration of the six-year contract.

The Athletic first reported that the renewal had been signed, but ESPN has declined to comment. However, AP was informed by CFP Executive Director, Bill Hancock, that ‘negotiations are continuing’.

ESPN has been a long-running media partner to the CFP, having signed a 12-year agreement with the tournament back in 2012 worth $470m annually, for a total duration value of $5.64bn. 

Should AP and The Athletic’s sources be accurate, the renewal shows that the value of college football in the US has continued to grow exponentially, driven by the popularity of the sport.

The tournament has proven to be a gold mine for ESPN throughout its partnership, with the Disney-owned outlet reporting record-breaking viewing figures for the last edition of the competition in January.

The complete seven-game College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six averaged 15.1 million viewers, with 4.6 million viewers per game across a total of 40 fixtures, up 5% year-over-year.

ESPN is cementing itself as the broadcasting home of college sports, having signed an eight-year agreement with the NCAA to continue its 45-year commercial relationship with the organisation.

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