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NFL Facing Over $6B Lawsuit That Could Change the Way We Watch Football Forever

The NFL faces up to a $6.1 billion payout if a class-action antitrust lawsuit brought against the league is successful.

A federal judge in California rejected the NFL’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit Thursday, concluding there is a triable issue of whether the league violated the federal Sherman Anti-Trust Act in its agreement with DirecTV for “NFL Sunday Ticket,” Deadline reported.

“NFL Sunday Ticket” allows viewers to pay to watch games outside their television markets.

The Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 bars monopolistic practices by companies.

The lawsuit, first filed in 2015, is being brought by approximately “2.4 million Sunday Ticket subscribers in the residential class and nearly 50,000 bars, restaurants, and other establishments in the commercial class,” Deadline reported.

“Notwithstanding the complex contract law and even more complex business arrangement of the license to print money that is the NFL, at the heart of this case is a contention by plaintiffs from all over the country they were forced to pay inflated prices to the league to watch out of market games on [DirecTV’s] Sunday Ticket package,” the news outlet added.

The NFL entered into a deal in 2022 with YouTube, which now carries “Sunday Ticket,” instead of DirecTV, which had the rights from 2011 to 2022.

Its cost for the 2023 regular season was $399 for those without a subscription to YouTube TV.

U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez ruled, after looking at the arguments presented by the plaintiffs and the league, that the issue of whether an illegal monopoly has been established must go to jury trial.

The judge found that DirecTV, based on agreements entered into by the NFL, was able to charge “supracompetitive prices for Sunday Ticket because fans unwilling to pay for Sunday Ticket cannot, for example, purchase out-of-market games individually or by team.”

Gutierrez suggested that a team like the Los Angeles Rams could stream its game individually to out-of-market viewers but for the NFL pooling all the teams’ rights and allowing only DirecTV — and now YouTube — to provide coverage.

“This is the basis for Plaintiffs’ suit: Absent the agreements, the telecasts solely available on Sunday Ticket would be available through other means, which would result in a greater number of telecasts of NFL games that would be more accessible to more viewers at lower prices,” the judge said.

Gutierrez also addressed an exemption to antitrust law regarding broadcast rights the NFL successfully lobbied Congress to pass in 1961.

He noted the exemption had to do with broadcast rights for free over-the-air telecasts but did not address “paid telecasts” through steaming, which of course did not exist in 1961.

The judge concluded, “Based on the record before the Court, a reasonable trier of fact could find that the alleged horizontal pooling of the member clubs’ telecast rights is an unreasonable restraint” on trade.

The jury trial date is set for Feb. 22.

Many fans were upset with the NFL for allowing NBC to broadcast the Kansas City Chiefs vs. Miami Dolphins wild-card playoff game Saturday exclusively on its Peacock streaming service.

Despite the pushback, the network announced the game attracted 23 million viewers to become “the most streamed event” ever in the U.S.

NBC’s Mike Tirico thanked the league and Commissioner Roger Goodell for making it possible.

NBC celebrates the Peacock game, calling it the “most streamed event ever” with 23 million viewers and thanking Roger Goodell and the NFL.

Mike Tirico calls it “A milestone moment in media and sports history.”

One X user responded by saying, “This is so disingenuous. They put one of the biggest games of the year on a streaming service and forced everyone who wanted to watch to subscribe. Consumers had no choice. This is not a win.”

  • James Leamons says:

    Having been drafted into the US Army in 1972, I found the kneeling by the NFL and its players to be an affront to me and the country I served. Fuck the NFL. Don’t watch them.



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