First reported by Pete Thamel of ESPN, the College Football Playoff (CFP) has agreed to expand the playoffs to 12 teams beginning in 2024, moving the date up from 2026. Unless the committee made changes, the 12-team field includes champions from each Power 5 conference, the Group of 5 champion, and six at-large teams.
On September 2, the CFP announced an expansion of the playoffs from 4 teams to 12 teams beginning in 2026, citing a need for more participation in college football’s national championship tournament. Importantly, the CFP received nearly $470 million per year in television rights for the four-team format.
Since the announcement, the CFP has been working to move up the expansion to the 2024 season. However, each playoff bowl game and ESPN, the television rights holder, needed to agree to the 2024 start date. Until Thursday, the Rose Bowl was the lone holdout, seeking better terms and primetime slots during non-playoff years. By Thursday evening, the CFP had resolved the issues, paving the way for the CFP to begin in 2024.
Additionally, the CFP announced that the 2024 playoff begins the week ending on Saturday, December 21, with the higher-seeded team hosting. The top 4 teams will receive a bye. Semifinal winners will play the 2024 National Championship game in Atlanta on January 20, 2025, and the CFP will hold the 2025 championship game in Miami on January 19, 2026.
The CFP did not announce anything regarding playoffs beyond 2025. ESPN’s television rights agreement expires in 2025. The NCAA is seeking a new deal that could include multiple broadcasts and fetch up to $2 billion annually—far exceeding the current $470 million.
Most teams will welcome expanded opportunities to compete for a national championship. For the College Football Playoff, more playoff games mean more revenue, and a big payday will be coming soon.