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$21B NFL ‘Sunday Ticket’ lawsuit: Where the trial stands

LOS ANGELES (NewsNation) — A multibillion-dollar class-action lawsuit against the National Football League has the association defending its decades-old “Sunday Ticket” streaming package.

The trial for the lawsuit filed by “Sunday Ticket” subscribers has entered its third week.

Class-action lawsuit allegations

The plaintiffs representing subscribers and businesses are accusing the NFL of conspiring with major broadcast networks to keep the “Sunday Ticket” package at a sky-high price to hike local viewership ratings.

This lawsuit originally came against the NFL nine years ago, but it’s only now on trial in Los Angeles.

The class action, which covers 2.4 million residential subscribers and 48,000 businesses who paid for the package from 2011 through 2022, claims the league broke antitrust laws by selling its package of out-of-market Sunday afternoon games at an inflated price.

Court documents show that networks pressured the league to keep those steep “Sunday Ticket” prices to not compete with local ratings. Other evidence shows a rejection by the league to offer a $70 season package on ESPN’s streaming service.

Subscribers are saying the NFL didn’t allow any competition with the “Sunday Ticket” package offered only on DirecTV for nearly 10 years until it moved to YouTube TV last year.

Goodell testifies, defends ‘Sunday Ticket’

Roger Goodell looks on during the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft at Campus Martius Park on April 26, 2024DETROIT, MICHIGAN – APRIL 26: Commissioner of the National Football League Roger Goodell looks on during the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft at Campus Martius Park on April 26, 2024 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reiterated during four hours of testimony in federal court Monday that the league’s “Sunday Ticket” package is a premium product while also defending the league’s broadcast model.

“We have been clear throughout that it is a premium product, not just on pricing but quality. Fans make that choice whether they want it or not. I’m sure there were fans who said it was too costly,” Goodell said.

He even likened it to a premium subscription product like HBO.

Goodell, who has been commissioner since 2006, said he believes this is the first time he has been called to testify in federal court during his tenure.

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was called to testify and defended the league’s broadcast model. He said he’d be against individual teams making TV deals, calling the idea flawed.

The NFL agrees with Jones — and unlike other sports leagues — it does allow local fans to watch every one of their local team’s games for free on over-the-air TV.

What happens if NFL loses lawsuit?

The NFL maintains it has the right to sell “Sunday Ticket” under its antitrust exemption for broadcasting. The plaintiffs say that only covers over-the-air broadcasts and not pay TV.

If the NFL is found liable, a jury could award $7 billion in damages, but that number could balloon to $21 billion because antitrust cases can triple damages.

However, the league would likely fight that payout, appealing to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and possibly the Supreme Court after that if they were to lose.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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