NFL Sunday Ticket Lawsuit: Everything You Need To Know About Ongoing Legal Battle

The NFL Sunday Ticket is set to head to court soon. We discuss everything you need to know regarding the upcoming legal dispute.

The way NFL fans watch their favorite team may change forever depending on the outcome of the upcoming NFL Sunday Ticket trial, which will start soon. With questions and issues left unanswered for nearly three decades, it looks as if there may be a day in court to sort it all out. Here’s everything you need to know about the NFL Sunday Ticket lawsuit.

Explaining the NFL Sunday Ticket Trial

On June 5, representatives of the league and the television product will head to court to argue that the NFL’s broadcast antitrust exemption doesn’t allow it to bundle all rights to out-of-market games and sell them as one unit.

While the NFL is typically on the cutting edge of many trends, it is sorely behind other major leagues in this category. Both the NBA and MLB each offer single-team packages for out-of-market games, and the NHL’s out-of-market games are now streamed as part of ESPN+ in the U.S., setting a precedent for what the television provider is set to argue in court.

Sunday Ticket is marketed as a way for an out-of-town fan to consume all of the action for their favorite team even if they’re not in their viewing area. However, as many fans know, the issue right now is that to receive that type of access, you need to purchase the entire year for the whole league, even if that’s not what you’re looking for.

The premise is that Sunday Ticket may benefit the fan and potentially make more money by offering fans specific packages to see their favorite team play rather than having to buy tickets for all 31 other teams’ games.

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If the certified classes of plaintiffs — amounting to more than 2.4 million residential subscribers and 48,000 commercial ones — are successful, NFL teams could be freed to strike individual and market-specific out-of-market rights deals, and consumers would likely get the freedom to purchase individual games or team-specific packages.

When it’s all said and done, there could be damages that exceed $6 billion that would need to be settled, setting up a case where an agreement out of court may be in the best interest of the league.

Notable Names Set To Testify in Sunday Ticket Trial

This trial is expected to feature a number of notable witnesses, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

“The NFL intends to question Goodell about, among other topics, the distribution of NFL games and the league’s contractual arrangements with broadcasting partners,” writes attorney Michael McCann. “He would also discuss the relationship between the league itself and teams, and how that shapes their broadcasting arrangements.”

Jones and Kraft are both members of the NFL’s broadcast and media committees, which is why they’ll be testifying.

Other notable names set to testify include CBS Sports chair Sean McManus, Fox Sports executive VP Lawrence Jones, former ESPN executive and NFL Network CEO Steve Bornstein, economist Daniel Rascher, and economist Douglas Bernheim.

Despite the feeling that a settlement would be good for both parties involved, there isn’t much optimism that the two sides will be able to reach an agreement at this time. However, that could change over the next week as they approach their day in court.

Depending on how this upcoming trial plays out, a lot could change for the NFL and how fans consume its content.

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