NFL Sued in Antitrust Suit Over “Sunday Ticket” Package

  • The NFL started offering their “Sunday Ticket” package back in 1994 as a way for out-of-market fans to watch their team every week.
  • A class-action suit that has been in the works since 2015 will finally go to court as the NFL is accused of working with its network partners to inflate prices.
  • The plaintiffs in the suit are looking for $7.1 billion, but the number could go up to $21.3 billion.

The NFL’s “Sunday Ticket” package is wildly successful since it was launched in 1994. The premise was that the NFL was trying to cater to out-of-market fans who wanted to watch their team. For example, if you were a Kansas City fan, but you lived in Arizona, you probably didn’t have many options to watch your team.

“Sunday Ticket” stepped in to fill that void. However, the NFL have been named in a class-action suit, consisting of almost 2.5 million people, according to a CNN report.

The report states that the NFL allegedly colluded with its network partners to increase the cost of “Sunday Ticket”. We could see various NFL owners called to the stand for this case, as well as executives of DirecTV, which had “Sunday Package” until 2022 when YouTube TV took over.

Plaintiffs Looking for $7.1 Billion, But That Number Could Be Tripled

This case began in 2015, and the basis for the suit is that the NFL owners, together with DirecTV, Fox and CBS, have ensured that out-of-market fans have to get “Sunday Ticket” to watch their team. The lawyers for the plaintiffs stated in a filing:

“Given the relatively low cost of internet streaming and satellite and cable television carriage, each team acting independently would offer their games at a competitive price to anybody in the country who wanted to watch that particular team. Instead, however, the teams have all forgone this option in favor of creating a more lucrative monopoly.”

An additional CBS Sports report claims that the networks were involved. Amanda Bonn, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said:

“NFL, Fox, CBS and DirecTV agreed to make an expensive toll road that hardly any people would be able to afford. Every single competitor in this scheme benefitted.”

The NFL’s lawyer, Beth Wilkinson, responded:

“The case is about choice. This is a valuable, premium product. Think about all the choices available to fans. We want as many people as possible to watch the free broadcasts”.

YouTube TV is selling the “Sunday Ticket” package for $449 a year to consumers, and they paid $2 billion a year to win it from DirecTV.

This lawsuit could end up costing the NFL a lot of money. The 2.5-million people named as plaintiffs are seeking $7.1 billion. However, because this is a federal antitrust lawsuit, the penalty can be triple the amount that the plaintiffs are seeking. Therefore, the NFL could be on the hook for $21.3 billion.

The plaintiffs could call numerous witnesses to the stand, such as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, owners Robert Kraft (New England) and Jerry Jones (Dallas), and network executives.

This Isn’t the First Class-Action Suit for the NFL

The CNN report stated two other occasions in which the NFL faced class-action lawsuits. The league settled with the city of St. Louis, which sued the NFL over the relocation of the Rams to Los Angeles in 2017. That case concluded with a $790 million settlement.

Another $765 million was doled out in 2013 as players looked to be compensated after suffering brain trauma, due to concussions.

Recent history would say that the NFL will also look to settle this case, but it’s something to keep an eye on. The league has many relationships with NFL betting sites, but if they end up on the wrong side of the suit, they might need a few more deals to help settle this bill.

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Elliot Nield
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Elliot Nield has worked in the online gambling industry for almost two decades, and while his focus is on sports, he doesn't mind a few hours on the poker felts and the blackjack tables. In his spare time, Elliot can be found cheering on Manchester United and the Kansas City Chiefs, and praying that Patrick Mahomes stays healthy forever.

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