Another Plaintiff Joins the Trend: The NFL-DirecTV Antitrust Litigations
Over the course of Summer 2015, the NFL and DirecTV have been served with nine separate antitrust lawsuits, alleging that the defendants’ “NFL Sunday Ticket” agreement is in violation of the antitrust laws. All complaints have been filed on behalf of commercial entities, such as bars and restaurants, and the most recent complaint, filed by Jammers, Inc., owner of a bar in Los Angeles, proposes a class action lawsuit against the defendants.
While all major American professional sports leagues have out-of-market broadcasting agreements with cable and satellite providers, the NFL is the only league involved in an exclusive agreement. For any sport, out-of-market games are not typically broadcast over basic cable and satellite options. Fans wishing to view such games—and, businesses desiring to display games to patrons—must purchase the out-of-market packages to do so. However, pursuant to the NFL’s agreement with DirecTV, NFL out-of-market games may only be watched through DirecTV’s Sunday Ticket package.
Each complaint filed against the NFL and DirecTV have generally made the same allegations. The plaintiffs have claimed that, through the NFL-DirecTV exclusive agreement, a monopoly has been created in which the contract excludes competitors of DirecTV from offering different out-of-market package options. Thus, as the complaint further alleges, the lack of competition permits the league and DirecTV to overcharge for its service.