NFL ‘Sunday Ticket’ telecast subscribers can get a piece of $4.6 billion in damages

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A jury sided with class-action plaintiffs in a nearly decade-long antitrust case against the NFL.

  • A jury ordered the NFL to pay out billions in damages to subscribers of its “Sunday Ticket” package.
  • The league said it was disappointed in the decision and plans to appeal.
  • Millions of viewers accused the NFL of violating antitrust laws with its media model.

Fervent NFL fans could soon reap a payday after a California jury sided with plaintiffs in their class-action lawsuit against the popular sports league this week.

The jury ordered the NFL to pay out $4.7 billion in damages to individual subscribers of the league’s “Sunday Ticket” package, which gives viewers access to out-of-market games. The jury also awarded $96 million in damages to business subscribers.

More than two million residential subscribers and 48,000 businesses that purchased the telecast package from 2011 through the 2022 season accused the NFL of violating antitrust laws by striking exclusive deals with broadcast partners to air the out-of-market games.

The decision is a major blow to the NFL’s broadcast model and could financially hamper the ultrawealthy institution. If the judgment is upheld, the amount of damages will be tripled under antitrust law — totaling more than $14 billion.

A spokesperson for the NFL said the league was disappointed by the jury’s decision and plans to appeal. In a statement to Business Insider, the spokesperson said the league still believes its media distribution strategy is “by far the most fan-friendly distribution model in all of sports and entertainment.”

“We will certainly contest this decision as we believe that the class action claims in this case are baseless and without merit,” the statement continued.

Plaintiffs in the case accused the NFL of selling the “Sunday Ticket” package at an inflated price, forcing viewers to overpay for access to out-of-market games. Viewers also alleged the NFL was restricting competition by working together with its teams to sell the viewing rights collectively and only offering the package on a satellite provider.

For example, a New Orleans Saints fan living in Los Angeles would have to buy the “Sunday Ticket” package to watch their favorite team play, spending hundreds of dollars on an array of other games that they aren’t interested in watching.

Throughout the trial, the NFL argued it was allowed to sell its “Sunday Ticket” package under an existing antitrust exemption, ESPN reported. The plaintiffs, however, maintained the league’s exemption is related to over-the-air broadcasts, not paid TV, according to the outlet.

The jury’s decision, which came after about five hours of deliberation, brings the eight-year-long legal battle to an end. A San Francisco sports bar first filed the lawsuit in 2015. The case was dismissed in 2017 but revived two years later in an appeals court.

The “Sunday Ticket” package dates back to the 1990s when DirecTV was first introduced. Starting last year, the NFL struck a deal with YouTube TV instead.

Read the original article on Business Insider


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