NFL Asking U.S. Supreme Court to Review Sunday Ticket in Class-Action Lawsuit

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 5, 2020

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR DIRECTV - Atmosphere at DIRECTV's NFL SUNDAY TICKET Lounge on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019 in Atlanta. (Paul Abell/AP Images for DirecTV)
Paul Abell/Associated Press

The NFL and DirecTV have petitioned for a Supreme Court review of a class-action lawsuit brought up against the satellite company's Sunday Ticket deal, according to Michael A. Fletcher of ESPN. 

The deal offers a chance for fans to pay $293 per season for access to every NFL game, but consumers are required to purchase a bundle for every game instead of potentially their favorite out-of-town team.

Lawyers initially argued that this violates federal antitrust laws, preventing NFL teams from competing against each other for a larger market share.

The initial class-action suit also claimed it forces customers to "pay more for games than they want."

In addition to the high cost for individuals, restaurants and bars are required to pay based on capacity, which led to costs of $2,300 and $120,000 per season, per Fletcher. 

The case reached the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which reopened the lawsuit last August.

"If the NFL were to lose, I don't think it is necessarily so dramatic in terms of the way you will watch NFL on satellite or cable," sports economist at the University of Michigan Stefan Szymanski said of the case. "But it should be good news for consumers because they should be paying less [for out-of-market games]."

Lawyers for the NFL and DirecTV have argued games are part of a "joint venture" between the teams and the league, protecting it from any antitrust statutes. 

The NFL and DirecTV signed an eight-year, $12 billion deal to showcase out-of-market games in 2014.

Under the current system, networks are allowed to broadcast local teams and a limited number of national games, but never more than three on a Sunday afternoon. The lawsuit could allow more flexibility for national broadcasts.

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