Jury awards NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers $4.7 billion in antitrust suit

The NFL was found guilty of antitrust violations in Sunday Ticket case and ordered to pay $4.7 billion in damages - ConsumerAffairs

The jury returned its verdict after deliberating for only five hours

A federal court jury has ruled that the NFL violated antitrust law in its management of NFL Sunday Ticket, its package of out-of-market NFL games that it assigned exclusively to DirecTV, and then YouTube TV.

The jury awarded damages of $4.7 billion dollars to the plaintiffs in the class action suit. The jury returned its verdict after deliberating for only five hours. The NFL immediately said it would file an appeal.

Sunday Ticket subscribers sued the NFL, DirecTV, and all 32 NFL teams, claiming that the groups were working together to eliminate competition for places where football fans can watch out-of-market games. 

The lawsuit dates back to 2015, and subscribers argued that the NFL worked closely with broadcasting partners to limit where and when certain games were being broadcast. In turn, it is claimed that this allowed DirecTV to hike the prices of its Sunday Ticket offerings, as it was the only way for fans to watch out-of-market games. 

“In other words, fans who want to watch out-of-market games must choose either Sunday Ticket or nothing,” the suit states. “Plaintiffs claim that absent the allegedly anticompetitive agreements at issue, the telecasts available on Sunday Ticket would be available through other means, which would result in more access to telecasts of NFL games at lower prices.” 

The NFL’s response

"We are disappointed with the jury's verdict today in the NFL Sunday Ticket class action lawsuit,” the NFL said in a statement. “We continue to believe that our media distribution strategy, which features all NFL games broadcast on free over-the-air television in the markets of the participating teams and national distribution of our most popular games, supplemented by many additional choices including RedZone, Sunday Ticket and NFL+, is by far the most fan friendly distribution model in all of sports and entertainment." 

The suit was filed on behalf of 2.4 million NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers and 48,000 businesses that paid for the package of out-of-market games from the 2011 through 2022 seasons on DirecTV. 

In the suit, the plaintiffs argued that the NFL violated antitrust laws by selling its package of Sunday games at an inflated price. The subscribers also claimed the NFL restricted competition by offering "Sunday Ticket" only on a satellite provider.

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