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Apple interested in College Football Playoff streaming rights for 2026 championship

Apple TV+ and football

ESPN owns the rights to stream College Football Playoff games through 2026, though Apple and Amazon are eyeing the opportunity to take over.

Apple already has rights to Friday Night Baseball and Major League Soccer, but it hasn't given up on American football just yet. It failed to acquire rights to streaming the Big Ten or Pac-12, but another college streaming package is going up for grabs.

According to a report from Front Office Sports, Apple and Amazon have entered discussion for obtaining rights to at least some of the College Football Playoff games in 2026. ESPN has had the rights to the annual three-game series since 2012, and those rights expire in 2026.

However, in 2026, the College Football Playoff series is expanding from a four team slate, which equates to three games, to a twelve team slate, which would equate to eleven games. The rights to those additional eight games don't belong to ESPN and several broadcasters have entered the conversation, including Fox, Amazon, NBC, and Apple.

The new tournament will have eight schools face off in four initial games, then the four best teams with first-round byes will face off against the winners in a second round of four games. These are the game streaming rights up for purchase.

The two semifinal games and championship Monday night game will still be streamed by ESPN, at least in 2026. It isn't clear how the rights will shift after ESPN's contract expires, but whoever wins the College Football Playoff contract for 2026 may be the front runner for all rights going forward.

College Football Playoff games are played in the winter, post regular season. They occur around other bowl games through New Years.

If Apple can get rights to College Football Playoff games, it will own much of the American Football conversation through the winter and up to the NFL Super Bowl, where Apple Music runs the halftime show. Of course, 2026 is a long way away and these preliminary talks may not evolve into something more serious for Apple.