HomeFootball"Jury Rules in 'Sunday Ticket' Case: NFL Violated Antitrust Laws"

“Jury Rules in ‘Sunday Ticket’ Case: NFL Violated Antitrust Laws”

A jury in the U.S. District Court ordered the NFL to pay more than $4.7 billion in damages on Thursday, finding that the league violated antitrust rules by transmitting out-of-market Sunday afternoon games via a premium membership service.

The jury decided that the homeowners deserved $4.7 billion in damages, but the businesses only got $96 million. The NFL might face a potential liability of $14.39 billion due to the federal antitrust statutes’ ability to quadruple damages.

From 2011 through the 2022 season, 2.4 million residential customers and 48,000 companies paid for the out-of-market games package on DirecTV. They were all named in the complaint. The plaintiffs in the case claimed that the league had violated antitrust rules by charging too much for its Sunday game package. The subscribers also claim that the league limited competition by limiting the availability of “Sunday Ticket” to a single satellite provider.

The National Football League has announced its intention to appeal the decision.

The decision reached by the jury in the class action case involving the NFL Sunday Ticket is disappointing. The NFL has maintained its belief that its media distribution strategy is the most fan-friendly in the sports and entertainment industries. This strategy includes airing all NFL games on free over-the-air television in the markets where the teams play, as well as nationally distributing our most popular games. Additionally, there are many additional options, such as RedZone, Sunday Ticket, and NFL+.

The class action allegations, in this case, are completely without substance, thus we will fight this ruling. We appreciate the jury’s deliberations and the careful direction and supervision provided by Judge Philip Gutierrez.

One move to vacate the judgment is among the post-trial motions that will be considered on July 31. The National Football League will bring an appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court if the decision is not reversed.

The potential cost to each of the 32 clubs, should the NFL be required to pay damages, could reach $449.6 million. Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, and Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, were among the witnesses presented during the three-week trial.

“Justice was served. The ruling maintains safeguards for our class of consumers. “Consumers had a fantastic day,” said Bill Carmody, a counsel representing the plaintiffs.

Carmody included an NFL letter from April 2017 as part of his concluding statements. The email revealed that the league was considering a future without “Sunday Ticket” in 2017 when out-of-market games airing on cable networks will replace Fox and CBS.

After almost five hours of deliberation, the jury—consisting of five males and three females—reached their verdict.

Until the appeals process is complete, the NFL will not pay damages, make modifications to the “Sunday Ticket” package, or alter how it broadcasts Sunday afternoon games.

Under the league’s antitrust exemption for broadcasting, it said it could offer “Sunday Ticket” without interference. That, according to the plaintiffs, does not apply to pay TV, just over-the-air transmissions.

This issue was being closely monitored by other professional sports leagues as well, as they too provide out-of-market deals. The main distinction is that, rather than getting a flat rights fee, MLB, the NBA, and the NHL sell their packages via a network of distributors and split the money made from each subscriber.

From its start in 1994 until 2022, DirecTV aired “Sunday Ticket” on the network. Starting with the 2023 season, the league inked a seven-year agreement with YouTube TV, a Google product.

However, in 2017, the San Francisco sports bar Mucky Duck had its case rejected. The initial action was filed in 2015. The lawsuit was reinstated two years later by the 9th Circuit, the court with authority over eight states including California. Last year, Gutierrez determined that the lawsuit may go forward as a class action.

How does a Sunday Ticket work?

DirecTV offers a subscription service called NFL Sunday Ticket, which allows fans to watch out-of-market NFL games on Sunday afternoons. The DirecTV app or website allows subscribers to enjoy games on their televisions, laptops, cellphones, and tablets. The service offers features such as Game Mix, Red Zone Channel, and Fantasy Zone Channel, which provide complete coverage of NFL games that are not broadcast on local networks.

Abu Bakar
Abu Bakar
Abubakar is a writer and digital marketing expert. Who has founded multiple blogs and successful businesses in the fields of digital marketing, software development. A full-service digital media agency that partners with clients to boost their business outcomes.


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