NFL ordered to pay $5 billion in Sunday ticket case

A jury on Thursday found that a long-running case against the NFL over how the league distributes its TV broadcasts could alter how fans watch the nation’s most popular sport. A group of plaintiffs who bought the NFL’s Sunday ticket package won $4.7 billion from a jury, while another group was awarded $96 million to bar owners. Both amounts can be tripled due to antitrust laws.

The NFL said it would immediately appeal.

“We are disappointed in the jury’s verdict today in the NFL Sunday Ticket class-action lawsuit,” the league said in a statement. “We continue to believe that national distribution of all NFL games televised free over-the-air in participating teams’ markets and our most popular games will be complemented by many additional choices, including RedZone, Sunday. Ticket and NFL+, a fan-friendly distribution model across sports and entertainment. .

The case centers on how the NFL sold its Sunday ticket package to DirecTV, a satellite TV service. Sunday Ticket is a package showing Sunday games outside of the league’s market.

For years, the NFL sold that package to DirecTV (which last year moved to Google’s YouTube) and plaintiffs argued that a distributor selling NFL games in one package violated antitrust laws by not giving consumers more choice and artificially raising costs. . The league countered that the Sunday Ticket was a “premium product” and that the league’s system for distributing its games allowed most of its games to be available on broadcast television.

The lawsuit won’t result in any immediate changes, but Dan Rascher, an economist for the plaintiffs, said one possible outcome is that Sunday tickets could be sold to multiple companies and sold at lower prices.

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“The other consequence is that teams cannot collude in selling their media rights,” he said. “That means selling their own games, you’ll end up with a lot of games on a lot of channels on Sunday.”

Commissioner Roger Goodell and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and several television executives were among the witnesses called to testify during the three-week trial in Los Angeles.

The NFL makes over $20 billion a year. According to Sportico.

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