Reports: ESPN offering close to $500 million annually for college football playoffs

What would you do with half-a-billion bucks?

Would you pay to televise one season’s worth of college football playoff games?

Because that is exactly what ESPN is prepared to do.

Earlier in the year, conference commissioners believed they were sitting on a $350 million annual goldmine, but with a 30-day window for exclusive bargaining with the NCAA, the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network has blown those initial budget projections out of the water.

The new playoff, pitting the nation’s top four teams against one another, is set to replace the current Bowl Championship Series format in 2015 and run through the 2026 season. Thus, the potential total payout by the broadcasting company could fall somewhere in the $5-6 billion range.

That’s ‘billion’ with a ‘B’.

That is pricey, but are you ready for even more numbers?

According to Forbes, ESPN currently pays $125 million a year for the broadcast rights to the Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange bowls, as well as the BCS National Championship Game. The company also has a separate deal for the rights to the Rose Bowl, and that is valued at $30 million per year.

Thus, a current total payout of $155 million annually.

One doesn’t exactly need a calculator to figure out that $500 million is quite a big jump from an already hefty broadcast price — especially to televise only three games: Two semi-final matchups to be held at two of the major bowls on a rotating basis and a national championship game to be held at the highest-bidding stadium.

The next big question, of course, is how much will ESPN charge for a 30-second commercial?

Sources: Forbes, CBSSports, Orlando Sentinal

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