College football playoff: ESPN exec says network looks to ‘reinvent coverage’ with 12-year deal

In the no-surprise department, ESPN landed the rights to the new college football playoff, beginning with the 2014 season.

And the playoffs will be in ESPN’s possession for a long time, as in 12 years.

On an ESPN Front Row podcast, Burke Magnus, Sr. VP, College Sports Programming, explained why this deal is so much longer than the four-year run of the current BCS package.

“They thought it was important to lock in over the long term so fans and conferences could be familiar with the format and see how it plays out over time,” Magnus said. “From our perspective (the four-year BCS deal) was a short window. It felt like a presidential election, where you’re always running for re-election.”

ESPN now will have the new playoff system for more than decade. It plans to provide blanket coverage across all of its existing outlets and those that haven’t even been invented yet. Who knows what awaits in 2022?

“We are going to try to reinvent coverage of this property,” Magnus said. “It’s a new format. It will present a lot of opportunities for us.”

Magnus said the last two BCS championship games pulled in the biggest ratings ever on cable for any telecast (sports and non-sports). The potential is there for even bigger numbers with the buzz generated by college football’s first playoff.

Ultimately, ESPN wasn’t about to lose this package. The network has too much invested in college football. It needed the biggest games of the year to make it complete.

“Our commitment to college football is year round,” Magnus said. “We attempt to superserve the fans. With that kind of commitment to the college football enterprise, it was very, very important that we pay it off with this new and exciting playoff format.”



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