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How To Watch the College Football Playoff in 2024

Prepare for the new 12-team playoff format with our 2024 College Football Playoff watch guide.

College football fans, get ready to schedule a lot more couch time for the holidays.

If new additions like the super-sized Big Ten and SEC weren’t enough, the 2024–2025 college football season will also be the inaugural year for the 12-team College Football Playoff (CFP). Starting mid-December, we’ll see college football’s top teams across every conference battle it out for a chance to bring home a national championship.

We still have a while to go before this year’s College Football Playoff lineup gets announced. But if you want to get a head start on your playoff plans, here’s what you need to know about watching the 2024–2025 College Football Playoff games.

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2024–2025 College Football Playoff schedule

The inaugural 12-team CFP kicks off in late December with the first-round matchups, and schools with the No. 5 through No. 8 seeds will host all four matchups. For the quarterfinals and semifinals, games will move to the traditional bowl sites at NFL stadiums. The season will wrap up in late January with the 2025 College Football Playoff National Championship game in Atlanta.

Check back later this year for full game breakdowns, but in the meantime, here’s how the playoff TV schedule will look this winter.

College Football Playoff games schedule 2024–2025

Event Date Time (ET) Channel
First Round
TBD vs. TBD Friday, December 20 8:00 p.m. ABC, ESPN
TBD vs. TBD Saturday, December 21 12:00 p.m. TNT
TBD vs. TBD Saturday, December 21 4:00 p.m. TNT
TBD vs. TBD Saturday, December 21 8:00 p.m. ABC, ESPN
Quarterfinals
Fiesta Bowl Tuesday, December 31 7:30 p.m. ESPN
Peach Bowl Monday, January 1 1:00 p.m. ESPN
Rose Bowl Monday, January 1 5:00 p.m. ESPN
Sugar Bowl Monday, January 1 8:45 p.m. ESPN
Semifinals
Orange Bowl Tuesday, January 9 7:30 p.m. ESPN
Cotton Bowl Wednesday, January 10 7:30 p.m. ESPN
National Championship
College Football Playoff National Championship Game (Atlanta) Saturday, January 20 7:30 p.m. ESPN

Data effective as of post date.

Best way to watch College Football Playoff games

The College Football Playoff has long been an ESPN exclusive, but starting this fall, you’ll need to add another channel to the rotation. TNT Sports will broadcast two of this year’s first-round games, and it’ll also show two quarterfinal games starting in 2026.

Hulu + Live TV is our pick for the best way to watch college football games during the 2024 season. The streaming service offers the most college football channels, including both ESPN and TNT. Check out our main college football watch guide for more of our college football cable TV and streaming picks.

How does the College Football Playoff format work?

The new 12-team playoff throws out a few old rules while adding more teams and games to the schedule. Let’s break down the most important facts you’ll need to know for this year’s 12-team College Football Playoff.

How many teams are in the College Football Playoffs?

Following conference championship weekend, the five highest-ranked conference champions will earn playoff bids. The top four teams will also take the No. 1 through No. 4 seeds and get a first-round bye. No conference has guaranteed playoff spots, although the Big Ten, SEC, ACC, and Big 12 (along with the top Group of Five school) will likely split these top spots.

The next seven highest-ranked teams will fill the remaining playoff slots.

First-round games

In a first for the CFP, schools with the No. 5 through No. 8 seeds will host first-round games. Home-field advantage will be a massive boon for teams who want to make a playoff run but missed out on a first-round bye.

Quarterfinals and semifinals

As with past years, the CFP will rotate the quarterfinal and semifinal games between a mix of New Year’s Six bowls like the Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl.

Watch College Football Playoff games for free

You’ll need a proper game plan to watch the College Football Playoff for free since all 10 games are split between multiple broadcast and cable channels.

  • The opening and closing first-round playoff games are simulcast on ABC, and you can watch them for free with an over-the-air antenna.
  • The remaining CFP games will exclusively be on ESPN and TNT. While Hulu + Live TV doesn’t offer promos, other live TV services offer free trials that’ll get you through in a pinch.

How to watch the College Football Playoff FAQ

How many teams make the College Football Playoffs in 2024?

Starting in 2024, the College Football Playoff will feature 12 teams from across the 11 NCAA college football conferences. From 2014 to 2023, the CFP used a four-team playoff format.

How does the College Football Playoff work?

The 12-team College Football Playoff will first take the five highest-ranked conference champions. Then, the CFP will feature the next seven highest-ranked teams according to the CFP Selection Committee’s weekly rankings.

Who’s in the College Football Playoff?

The College Football Playoff has not announced who will be in the 2024 CFP. Preseason favorites to make the CFP include Ohio State, Georgia, Oregon, Texas, and Notre Dame.

When is the College Football Playoff?

For the 2024–2025 season, the College Football Playoff will start on Friday, December 21, with the first-round matchups. It will end on Monday, January 20, with the national championship game in Atlanta.

When does the College Football Playoff expand?

The College Football Playoff has already expanded. The 12-team playoff will start for the 2024–2025 season, and college football will no longer use the four-team playoff format.

When will the College Football Playoffs be announced?

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee has not yet confirmed their announcement dates for the 2024–2025 season. However, Selection Day is traditionally on the Sunday after conference championship weekend, and this year, it’ll be on Sunday, December 8.

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