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Apple in discussions to acquire streaming rights for the College Football Playoff from ESPN in 2026

Streaming platforms are in an ongoing battle for viewers, which is great news for us viewers—we get more options, more titles to explore, and more events to enjoy. However, a potential hiccup arises when fans of specific sports events subscribe to a particular streaming service solely for a specific event. Switching to a different service that broadcasts the event might pose a problem, as users would have to pay and subscribe to yet another platform.

In 2026, the College Football Playoff series is expanding from a four-team slate (equivalent to three games) to a twelve-team slate (equivalent to eleven games). The rights to these additional eight games are up for grabs, with various broadcasters, including Fox, Amazon, NBC, and Apple, entering the conversation.

ESPN will continue to stream the two semifinal games and the championship Monday night game, at least in 2026. The future of the rights post-ESPN’s contract expiration remains unclear, but whoever clinches the College Football Playoff contract for 2026 might have a strong position for all future rights.

If Apple secures the rights to College Football Playoff games, it could dominate a significant portion of the American Football conversation throughout the winter, leading up to the NFL Super Bowl. But still, let’s not forget that 2026 is quite a distance away, and these preliminary talks may not materialize into something more concrete for Apple.

The tech giant reported $21.2 billion in revenue from services, an 8% increase from the previous year. Apple’s recent deal with Lionel Messi this summer helped the company add over 110,000 new MLS Season Pass US subscribers just on the day Messi debuted with Inter Miami.

Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned, “We (Apple) are surpassing our expectations in terms of subscribers, and Messi’s move to Inter Miami certainly helped us out there a bit.” So, it is no wonder that the company is interested in getting the rights to stream more sports events.

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