The College Football Playoff is shelving expansion for at least the next four years, a decision that likely leaves hundreds of millions in revenue on the table.
The news, announced Friday, comes after months of in-fighting among conference commissioners about how and when to expand the four-team playoff, which currently distributes about $500 million each year to schools and conferences around the country. At one point, imminent expansion looked like a done deal, but the group has been unable to agree on a model that suits everyone.
The most popular expansion scenario, a 12-team model that would have added four more bowl games to the rotation, was projected to be worth an additional $450 million in television revenue just in 2024 and 2025. That’s before additional money from sponsorships, ticket sales and other streams.
The sticking points in expansion talks included the number of added teams, preexisting conference-bowl relationships, and consensus on which conferences would be given automatic entrants each year. Given the rapid changes underway in college sports, primarily around new athlete marketing rights and increased autonomy for specific divisions and conferences, Friday’s decision might also give the CFP a chance to tailor its future depending on how the power balance shifts in the next few years.
Any changes will now come in the 2026-27 season at the earliest. That would coincide with the expiration of the group’s current 12-year rights deal with ESPN, which gives the Disney unit a virtual stranglehold on the college football postseason calendar. Many within college sports have advocated for the next CFP deal to include multiple partners.