NFL Leveled In Antitrust Case

Hello everyone, let’s dive into a blockbuster courtroom drama that’s shaking the sports world! A jury in Los Angeles just handed down a jaw-dropping verdict against the NFL in the Sunday Ticket trial, a case that could cost the league a staggering $14 billion. That’s right, billion with a ‘B’.

In the U.S. District Court in the Central District of California, the jury decided that the NFL had overcharged bars, restaurants, and millions of fans for its Sunday Ticket package, violating federal antitrust laws. The league has been ordered to pay $96 million to bars and a whopping $4.7 billion to fans. Under antitrust law, these damages are tripled, leading to the massive $14 billion total.

The NFL isn’t taking this lying down. In a statement, the league called the suit “baseless and without merit” and vowed to appeal the verdict, hinting that this case could eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Bill Carmody, the lawyer for the plaintiffs, celebrated the verdict, calling it a victory for American consumers. Despite the NFL’s star-studded defense, including testimonies from commissioner Roger Goodell and high-profile owners like Jerry Jones, the jury was not swayed. Carmody praised the jury for seeing past the “star power” and focusing on the facts.

The lawsuit traces its roots back to 2015, when the San Francisco sports bar Mucky Duck alleged that the NFL’s bundling of out-of-market games into the pricey Sunday Ticket package violated antitrust laws. Initially dismissed in 2017, the case was revived in 2019 and has since grown into a class-action suit representing millions of subscribers and establishments from June 17, 2011, through February 7, 2023.

One of the lawsuit’s central claims is that the NFL inflated the price of the Sunday Ticket package. On YouTube TV, the package currently costs $349 per year. During the trial, it was revealed that the NFL had rejected an ESPN proposal to offer the package for $70 per season, including single-team packages.

Additionally, there was a 2017 proposal to scrap Sunday Ticket altogether and distribute games across various cable channels. The NFL maintained that Sunday Ticket is a “premium product” not meant for every household.

The jury’s Thursday ruling found these decisions to be in violation of federal antitrust law. Judge Philip Gutierrez, who presided over the case, expressed frustration with the complexity brought by the plaintiffs’ attorneys, warning he might still dismiss the jury’s verdict. “The way you have tried this case is far from simple,” Gutierrez remarked. “This case has gone in a direction it shouldn’t have gone.”

Following the verdict, the NFL expressed disappointment and stood by its media distribution strategy. “We continue to believe that our media distribution strategy… is by far the most fan friendly distribution model in all of sports and entertainment,” the league stated, emphasizing the variety of viewing options they provide, including free over-the-air broadcasts, RedZone, Sunday Ticket, and NFL+.

So, folks, the saga continues. The NFL’s next steps could reshape how fans watch football and redefine antitrust implications in sports broadcasting. Stay tuned for what promises to be an intense legal showdown as the league gears up to fight this verdict.

Front Office Sports


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here