NFL Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Alleged NFL Sunday Ticket Unfair Business Practices
The NFL is facing a $6 billion class action lawsuit over its handling of out-of-market games and prices of its NFL Sunday Ticket subscription package, a judge ruled earlier this week. The lawsuit alleges that the NFL broke the law in how it limited the number of games shown outside the package while driving up the cost of the premium Sunday Ticket subscription.
At the core of the suit is the plaintiff’s assertion that by the NFL limiting the number of games available via traditional broadcast means and forcing consumers to opt into a service controlled by a single provider, it violates United States antitrust laws governing non-competitive business practices.
The plaintiffs are composed of two groups, individuals who subscribed to Sunday Ticket in one class and commercial subscribers — including bars, restaurants, and hotels — in the other class. The case was certified by U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez allowing it to move forward as a class action lawsuit. A trial over these matters is set for a February 2024 start date.
“We continue to believe that the plaintiffs’ claims have no merit and will vigorously defend our position in this matter,” an NFL spokesperson said.
For practically its entire existence, the NFL Sunday Ticket has lived exclusively on DIRECTV, but starting in the fall, will move to YouTube TV. The popular out-of-market package allows customers to watch all NFL games that are not available either regionally or nationally in their specific local market. The lawsuit alleges that the limiting of games outside this package, combined with the steep price tag, was unlawful.
The plaintiffs are seeking damages dating back to as far as 2011. While neither DIRECTV nor the NFL have disclosed the Sunday Ticket’s total number of subscribers, expert estimates put the individual subscriber total at 2.4 million and the commercial at approximately 48,000 subcribers.
This is not the first time the NFL has found itself in court over its Sunday Ticket package. In 2019 it faced an Antitrust lawsuit over the way it handled the limiting of out-of-market games. The issue even worked its way up to the Supreme Court, where the Supreme Court rejected DirecTV and NFL’s case, which allowed the plaintiffs to proceed with their case.
The outcome of this case could have major ramifications for sports broadcasting moving forward, especially for league run out-of-market packages like MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, and MLS Season Pass.
NFL Sunday Ticket
NFL Sunday Ticket is a subscription video streaming service that allows football fans to watch every live out-of-market NFL game on Sunday afternoons on YouTube or YouTube TV.
If you use YouTube TV as your live TV provider, you’ll save $100 off the package price.
Users can choose to add NFL RedZone, which bounces from game to game. But Sunday Ticket is superior for fans who want to see every play of their favorite teams, even if they don’t live where the games are locally televised.