NHL Says No Common Question, No Common Answer, No Class Certification

In a court document released last week, NHL, Comcast, and others urged that the court should not grant a class certification to a group of TV broadcasting service subscribers who brought an antitrust action.  The defendants including NHL, Comcast, MLB and others argued that since the plaintiffs had failed to show common impact with common evidence, granting a class certification was not proper.

In 2012, the subscribers commenced the suit alleging that the restrictions imposed by the NHL and MLB on local TV broadcasters are anti-competitive because such restrictions drive up the price of sports cable television packages.  Particularly, the plaintiffs argued that by enacting blackout policies, the plaintiffs were abusing their monopoly positions.  The defendants’ practices of blacking out all NHL or MLB games in a team’s home territory or requiring subscribers to purchase a package for all out-of-market games instead of letting them choose to subscribe a particular team’s games violate antitrust laws.

Arguing that “the proposed classes include many ‘losers’ because the League packages they want would not exist, would cost more than they do now, or would contain fewer game telecasts,” the defendants urged the court that no class should be certified when the issues are substantially individualized as here.

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