College Football Playoffs: I'll Say They're Worth $160 Million A Year

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Yesterday, frustrated University of Georgia president Michael Adams proposed an eight-team playoff as a remedy to what he called a flawed BCS system.

It's obviously not the first time the playoff system has been mentioned. But the question I always get is, how much would a playoff system be worth to schools and conferences that participate in 2011, the first year something like this could happen?

Here's my official guess: The television money would double from today's dollars, with a network paying $640 million for a four-year playoff package.

Let me show you my math. Fox paid $320 million for the rights to air four out of the five BCS games through the 2010 season. That puts the value of each game at an average of $16 million. ABC paid $300 million for the rights to eight Rose Bowls and two BCS games through 2014. That values each game at $10 million.

If a playoff were to start in the 2011 season, the total eight-team package that could be offered would be three first-round games--the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar – and the rights to the winners of those games as well as the winner to the Rose Bowl (whose rights are held by ABC), which would represent the semifinals. Then of course, the National Championship game.

So that's a total of six games offered. The Fiesta, Orange and Sugar, I'll value at $22 million each. The semifinals, which adds the winner of the Rose, I'll value at $28 million each. And the national championship, I'll say is worth $38 million. I'll say it's likely that a four-year deal would be made so that it lines up with the end of ABC's relationship with the Rose Bowl.

$22 million times three = $66 million
$28 million times two = $56 million
$38 million times one = $38 million
That's $160 million.

Should ABC not win the rights, by the way, it would have to be compensated for the loss of what was sold to them as the National Championship game in 2014.

Questions? Comments?