Complaining about the cost of cable is a popular American pastime. But four California consumers have decided to stop talking and do something about it, filing suit against Time Warner for anticipated costs due to the provider’s recent acquisition of Lakers and Dodgers rights.
The suit focuses on two separate acquisitions made by Time Warner. In 2011, the cable provider gained a 20-year-long right to broadcast Los Angeles Lakers basketball games. Then, in January, Time Warner acquired a 25-year-long right to air Los Angeles Dodgers games.
According to the suit, the Lakers deal, which cost Time Warner $3 billion, will add $4 to every customer’s monthly bill; the Dodgers deal, which ran $8 billion, will cost consumers $4 or $5 extra per month, the suit claims.
“There is no legitimate business, legal, technological, or economic reason why TWC cannot offer these Lakers and Dodgers games on a standalone channel basis so that only those subscribers who want and are willing to pay for them would do so and those who did not want these channels could ‘opt out,’” the complaint says.
The suit also names the Dodgers and the Lakers as defendants.
A popular complaint of late
This isn’t the first uproar over “bundling,” the practice of only offering content and channels as part of a larger group. (Bundling is the reason that you can’t, say, subscribe only to HBO and ESPN, while avoiding The Food Network and Lifetime.) In February, cable provider Cablevision sued media conglomerate Viacom, claiming that Viacom only offered popular networks like Nickelodeon and MTV if Cablevision also accepted a slew of less-demanded networks. Cablevision claimed that that practice, knowing as “tying,” violates antitrust laws.
And in May, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced the Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013, which would allow consumers to choose the channels they wanted, and eschew the ones they didn’t.