NFL, DirecTV Antitrust Class Action Lawsuit

This antitrust class action alleges the existence of an anticompetitive agreement between DirecTV and the National Football League whereby the NFL provided DirecTV with the exclusive right to show live broadcasts of Sunday afternoon games out of market in the form of its NFL Sunday Ticket. Plaintiffs allege that this arrangement provides DirecTV with a monopoly on the distribution of such events and allows the NFL to charge supracompetitive prices for access to the games.

DirecTV is a leading provider of digital television entertainment in the United States, boasting millions of subscribers across the country. Until 2015, the NFL existed as an unincorporated association of thirty-two American professional football teams in the U.S. Each of the teams is separately owned and operated, competing in most respects with one another. 

The plaintiff in this case is DNW Foods, Inc., a restaurant and bar located in Exton, Pennsylvania, the operators of which have purchased DirecTV's subscription-based Sunday Ticket football broadcast package since 2011. The DirecTV NFL Sunday Ticket viewing package represents an agreement between NFL and DirecTV in which the latter receives the exclusive right to show live broadcasts of Sunday afternoon NFL games taking place out of the local market. DirecTV advertises specifically to restaurants and bars, boasting that the package is truly the only way for fans to see "every play of every out of market game, every Sunday." The result of the agreement, according to the complaint, is the inability of the plaintiff or other potential class members from purchasing access to out of market games from different distributors and the ability for defendants to charge supracompetitive prices for the broadcasts.

The NFL has been able to package and sell exclusive rights to these games mainly because each of the thirty-two teams comprising the league have bundled their collective rights to profit from out of market games. Otherwise, the teams would have competed amongst one another to sell the rights to such broadcasts. As it stands, according to the plaintiff, defendants have colluded to sell out of market games only through DirecTV, eliminating all competition in terms of distribution and requiring anyone wishing to view the games to subscribe to DirectTV at the supracompetitive prices it dictates (with this year's least expensive package representing an 11.5% increase over the prior year).

The plaintiff alleges the the NFL arrangement with DirecTV is a continuing agreement in restraint of trade with the purpose and effect of preventing horizontal competition in the the live NFL game distribution market and unfairly increasing prices in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. This lawsuit seeks payment of three times the amount of damages sustained by the plaintiff and all other DirecTV commercial subscribers to the NFL Sunday Ticket from June 17, 2011 forward, along with costs, attorney fees and an injunction against further such antitrust violations of the type described in the complaint. 

 

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Antitrust

Most Recent Case Event

NFL, DirecTV Antitrust Class Action Complaint

September 9, 2015

This antitrust class action alleges the existence of an anticompetitive agreement between DirecTV and the National Football League whereby the NFL provided DirecTV with the exclusive right to show live broadcasts of Sunday afternoon games out of market in the form of its NFL Sunday Ticket. Plaintiffs allege that this arrangement provides DirecTV with a monopoly on the distribution of such events and allows the NFL to charge supracompetitive prices for access to the games.

nfl_antirust_complaint.pdf

Case Event History

NFL, DirecTV Antitrust Class Action Complaint

September 9, 2015

This antitrust class action alleges the existence of an anticompetitive agreement between DirecTV and the National Football League whereby the NFL provided DirecTV with the exclusive right to show live broadcasts of Sunday afternoon games out of market in the form of its NFL Sunday Ticket. Plaintiffs allege that this arrangement provides DirecTV with a monopoly on the distribution of such events and allows the NFL to charge supracompetitive prices for access to the games.

nfl_antirust_complaint.pdf
Tags: Collusion and Price Fixing