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NFL facing class-action lawsuit over Sunday Ticket package

Roger Goodell, NY Jets, NFL
Roger Goodell, NFL, Getty Images

NFL fans and bar owners are suing the league over Sunday Ticket

The National Football League is the definition of Big Business — squashing all competition in their way toward the bottom line. It’s why Roger Goodell makes over $66 million per year. The league’s revenue has soared since he took over as commissioner in 2006. That includes their TV deals for NFL Sunday Ticket, most recently paired with YouTube TV in 2023.

There has been a class-action lawsuit over Sunday Ticket circulating the court system for a decade. In 2015, a San Francisco bar called Mucky Ducky Sports Bar filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league. The claim was that they were restricting competition for the broadcast of the 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. games. 2.5 million individuals and bar owners are joining the suit for a total of $7.1 billion in damages.

In June 2017, the NFL appeared to have won, as a U.S. District Court dismissed the case. The court ruled that the NFL’s DirecTV deal did not hinder competition despite the high prices. In 2019, though, an appellate court reinstated the case. Most recently, in February 2023, a U.S. district judge ruled that the case could be brought as a class-action suit. The trial for the current lawsuit began on June 5.

The crux of the case is that individuals and bar owners feel the NFL is taking advantage of football-loving fans and charging outrageous prices. Bar owners feel that they must fork up the price in order to attract fans.

According to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, details of the court case are scarce “because it’s not being covered like other big trials are covered.” Florio explained that Goodell and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will testify the week of June 17, 2024 (this week).

Florio elaborated that the reason for the lawsuit is that NFL teams are 32 distinct businesses. According to antitrust law, a group of businesses cannot collude to set prices. That is what the league seemingly does with NFL Sunday Ticket. In some circumstances, the NFL has an exemption from this law for the purposes of collective bargaining with the NFL Players Association. The argument is that the exemption does not apply to Sunday Ticket, and the NFL is forcing the provider to charge one exorbitant price for the whole product, not allowing customers to select packages for one team, one game, etc.

Florio indicated that if the NFL loses this case, it could come out with a major judgment against the league. Furthermore, it could potentially force the league to allow smaller packages for Sunday Ticket, giving fans the option to watch the games they want at an affordable price. However, he cautions that the NFL will appeal to the Supreme Court where the current majority tends to be pro-business.

For New York Jets fans who are not in the TV area of broadcasts or have only streaming access, this could be a game-changer. Don’t expect a final decision any time soon, though — a case that’s been going on for nine years could go for another nine.

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