The NFL is facing a multi-billion dollar antitrust lawsuit over the Sunday Ticket package

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A 2023 game between the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots. A class action lawsuit challenging the legality of the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package will have opening arguments Thursday.

New York

A class action lawsuit challenging the legality of the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package, with opening arguments scheduled for Thursday, could shake up television rights deals in professional sports and the way teams make money.

The case, first filed in 2015, focuses on the NFL’s package of games outside the local market, which are not shown nationally on other networks. The lawsuit says that by limiting broadcasts of those out-of-market games to the Sunday Ticket package, the NFL is forcing customers who want to watch only one team or a small group of teams to pay more.

“Given the relatively low cost of Internet streaming and satellite and cable television, any team acting independently would offer its games at a competitive price to anyone in the country who wanted to watch that particular team,” plaintiffs’ lawyers argued in a filing . . “Instead, however, the teams have all foregone this option in favor of creating a more lucrative monopoly.”

The plaintiffs are seeking billions in potential damages, which could triple under antitrust law. The NFL states that the current arrangement offers fans the widest possible selection of games at a good price.

Among the witnesses who could be called in the case are NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, team owners Jerry Jones and Robert Kraft, as well as executives from several television networks and DirecTV, which held the exclusive Sunday Ticket package until it lost it to Google. YouTube TV started last season, at a reported cost of $2 billion per year. YouTube charges fans $449 per year for the package.

The case, which was tried in federal court in Los Angeles, was dismissed by a district court in 2017 and then reinstated by the district court. U.S. Court of Appeals in 2019. This is argued by attorneys from Susman Godfrey, a major national firm that settled the case against Dominion Voting Systems’ Fox News for more than $787 million just before that case went to trial.

The NFL has been known to settle a number of high-profile cases against the NFL rather than have its practices exposed and dissected in open court. These include a $790 million settlement that ended a lawsuit by plaintiffs in St. Louis who objected to the Rams’ move to Los Angeles in 2016 and a $765 million settlement reached in 2013 that established a fund to compensate players who had suffered brain injuries due to concussions during matchdays.

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