Settlement of NHL lawsuit could spark renewed attack on Sunday Ticket

Since the NFL and DirecTV unveiled the Sunday Ticket Package in 1994, fans who want to see the Sunday afternoon games of one specific out-of-market team have complained about having to buy all Sunday afternoon out-of-market games. They may now have a pathway for making that argument in court.

Via Reuters, the settlement of a class-action lawsuit challenging DirecTV’s NHL package has resulted in a commitment to allow fans to buy games featuring only one team for the next five years. The Internet-based package will cost at least 20 percent less than the bundled package.

A similar lawsuit is still pending against Major League Baseball.

In 2001, a class action filed against DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket package resulted in a settlement that included the ability to purchase the games one Sunday at a time, from the last four weeks of the 2001 season through at least the 2002 season. The Sunday Ticket package otherwise has been sold for the last two decades as an all-teams, every-Sunday proposition.

While the practice of forcing consumers to buy all games instead of some games appears to be a clear violation of the antitrust laws, the sports leagues believe that the broadcast antitrust exemption, which allows TV rights to be sold by the bundle and not by the team, applies not only to the networks but also to the consumers. The settlements of these class actions, which leverage the uncertainty of the potential outcome in court to entice the lawyers to accept a large fee payment and the plaintiffs to receive a much smaller concession than they’d get through a victory, prevent the issue from ever being fully litigated.

Still, the door is now open for an ambitious group of lawyers to recruit a plaintiff or two, to file the lawsuit challenging the inability to buy the out-of-market games for only one team, to go through the motions of working up the case for a couple of years, and then to receive a multi-million-dollar fee as part of yet another settlement that never really settles the issue.

68 responses to “Settlement of NHL lawsuit could spark renewed attack on Sunday Ticket

  1. no big deal imo. use hola + buy gamepass for like 90 bucks. see all the games you want live, and watch games you missed, including in condensed mode. way better than the rape that is sunday ticket.

  2. Cable/Dish/DirectTV do the exact same thing with forcing consumers to buy an entire programming bundle as opposed to specific channels each month. The television content providing industry is greedy and dirty.

  3. So to save a few bucks, you only get to watch 1 game.

    It doesn’t make sense to me, but whatever floats your boat

  4. Oh boy, what is this, an attempt at a full employment act for lawyers?

    Law is complicated but the section on antitrust exceptions will make your head hurt but that’s where the lawyers come in, they will read the statue and find you a greivance.

    And if you ever wonder why they still teach Shakespeare in school, its for his famous, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” line.

  5. Sunday Ticket is a rip off, especially for me. I’m a Patriots fan that lives just outside of Chicago, and since the Pats are nationally televised for at least six or seven games a year, year in and year out, I’m actually only paying for maybe seven games a season. Usually I can get them to throw Sunday ticket in for free by threatening to dump them and go with cable, but not always. I really hope that eventually they go with a system where you can buy individual games, but I’m not holding my breath.

  6. This sounds a lot like our political leadership doesn’t it?

    Accomplish little to nothing over many years then become a highly compensated lobbyist in charge of making sure that the newest crop of politicians are properly bribed.

  7. As a huge fan of the NFL, Im a Ravens fan, live in annapolis so I get all of the games but I have Sunday Ticket, not to watch my team play but because I like to have the ability to watch ALL of the games. I didnt sign up for Sunday ticket to just watch one team play.

  8. I have Directv, and every year I complain about my “buddy” getting it for free or getting it cheaper than me, and the past 3 years I’ve gotten the Ticket for free. If you want to get it for free or lowered, just call and complain and threaten to leave. Works everytime.

  9. What bothers me is that I’m “forced” (I use that term lightly because realistically I don’t have to buy the Sunday ticket) to buy from just one company. Maybe I don’t understand how all this works but why not allow multiple companies to provide the ticket? The competition would surely bring the price down for consumers and allow them to stay w/ the providers they like.

  10. It’s the broadcast networks that are scared to death of this and in turn the NFL is afraid of the impact to the value of their cash cow if suddenly the viewers can watch a non local broadcast game without paying $300.

    Overall viewership could go up, DirecTv might even see more revenue if games could be sold individually, but the local network ratings would be killed.

  11. DirectTV has been basically giving the games away to keep you customer lately, I haven’t paid for it two yrs running, here’s hoping for a 3rd…..I like having all the games, buying games individually would be more expensive in the long run plus its good to see games in your teams division or teams fighting for a playoff spot or unexpected good match ups…I just hope lawyers don’t ruin it….

  12. That is good news and I may take advantage of it for hockey, but I will still get the Sunday Ticket every year. If you a big NFL fan, it is worth every penny IMO.

  13. Cox Cable =/= NFL Sunday Ticket
    Can someone do something about this please?

  14. Coming up next: a class-action lawsuit against Lucky Charms from people who just want the marshmallows. Those toasted oat pieces aren’t what’s magically delicious, so they’re gonna sue.

  15. MLB is the worst about this. Ask the people in Nevada who are blacked out of about a half-dozen teams.

    I’m blacked out of Astros and Rangers games in Louisiana, even though the Astros TV network isn’t available where I live. I know the philosophy behind it (mad customers who can’t watch games and can’t get a network are supposed to pressure cable systems to carry a network), but it sucks.

  16. theyd probably make way more splitting it up per team, because 10x the amount of people would buy the package. Especially in todays world where fewer people have cable, and watch it online…

  17. I would gladly be that plaintiff., C4/5 quadriplegic that is the denied his one true love of watching his out-of-state lifetime favorite football team. Lawyers feel free to contact me! 🙂

  18. The biggest problem with Sunday ticket is that you have to have a satellite to get it. Pump it through regular cable and I’m in.

  19. Only a problem in the US. They have more cable providers in Europe and their costs are lower. Here we have government sponsored monopolies. The owners harp about free market, but conveniently leave that philosophical perch when it might lower company profits.

  20. Pick me! I’ll be the lead plaintiff. I just want the ticket to watch the Giants. I’d watch a replay of women’s soccer before I watched a Jags game.

  21. Watch games on the “a-t-…” site… I won’t say it but you probably know which one I’m talking about.

    And I pay $0.00

    🙂

  22. We have football parties every Sunday with three different games going at once. I am a Vikings fan living in Maine and I wouldn’t buy a package that gave me just Vikings games. I enjoy watching football from 11 AM until midnight on football Sundays. My wife might not love it but she knew what she was getting into… LOL

  23. Pay-per-view would make entirely too much sense for the average consumer. The NFL and cable monopolies would never allow it.

  24. Reading these comments it is clear that each consumer has varying preferences and pricing points.

    Some people do want each and every game as an option – FINE.

    Some people only want their one game a week – FINE

    The point of these lawsuits is the consumer should have all the options of the various packages and prices to decide what best fits their demand and budget.

  25. Last year they offered an online version only in select markets and if you couldn’t get Directv (like an apartment building). So I decided to try it and won’t be doing it again. It was so far behind the live broadcast you couldn’t have a fantasy tracker, twitter, or any live blog up without being spoiled. Sometimes the score tracker on the directv online page would change the score before the play was showed.

  26. theyd probably make way more splitting it up per team, because 10x the amount of people would buy the package. Especially in todays world where fewer people have cable, and watch it online…
    true, so very true but they would also implement a tier system that, for instance, would cost the consumer much more to watch a Cowboy game than a Jaguar game, and a Cowboy game against Green Bay would cost much much more than a Cowboy game against the Buccaneers…be careful what you wish for…

  27. YanksBills says:
    Jun 12, 2015 11:33 AM
    I like having all the games. I think with fantasy sports, people have more interest in watching more than just their home team.
    ==================
    niz10rav55 says:
    Jun 12, 2015 11:44 AM
    …I get all of the games but I have Sunday Ticket, not to watch my team play but because I like to have the ability to watch ALL of the games. I didnt sign up for Sunday ticket to just watch one team play.
    =================

    Hey, that’s great guys. You want to watch all the games and you can. But for those of us who just want to watch our own team out-of-market each Sunday, we have to pay for every other game on the schedule. I do it each year because it’s the only way I can see my Patriots each week in Dallas, where everyone else thinks the Cowboys are America’s team.

  28. Living in NYC, I get both Giants and Jets games over broadcast for free. As a Giants fan with friends who are Jets fans, I am perfectly fine with that, so, my demand for out of market games is quite elastic.

    But, as I said up top, eventually, one of these massive internet companies will shell out the cash to purchase then entire NFL season for free streaming to all a la carte.

    Whether it is Google via Youtube, Sony via Crackle, Facebook via Instagram, Yahoo!, Twitter via Periscope, Netflix, etc…That is the future.

  29. It’s pretty obvious why the NFL won’t ever move to “pay per view” unless forced:

    It’s the same reason they required you to view your local team on telecasts and they blacked out the local team if it was not sold out.

    Because if all consumers could CHOOSE which games/teams they wanted to watch, the coverage of teams other then the currently successful or popular teams would plummet.

    Your AVERAGE NFL fan is a typical bandwagon fan.

    So, right now EVERYONE would be a Seattle Fan, or New England Fan or any other successful team.

    The sign-up for those teams would be enormous, and the people watching and following other teams would be limited to we hard-core fanatic fans who follow our teams year after year through think and thin regardless of their success.

  30. Up here in Canada, I buy the Rogers TV Super Sport Package. It’s $35 a month. I only get it from Sept to January then cancel.. also get all the different sport networks that broadcast NCAA footballs. Sunday Ticket is part of the package.

  31. I just want to get my Seahawks game on my cable system. I’ll gladly pay $9.99 or so for any game that’s not on national TV. If I can’t do that, I’ll do what I’ve always done; go watch it at a sports bar somewhere. The last thing I’m going to do is what the NFL wants me to do: Stay home and watch their crappy Redskins-Eagles game with Aikman and Buck.

  32. There is no good reason for limiting these sports packages to be sold by one provider only.

    If the big four sports leagues played their cards right, they could negotiate a deal that would allow all providers to shop this, and actually end up getting more viewers with the competition ensues. That competition not only helps the consumer, but it will bring in more money for the leagues.

    The providers? Well they’ll be forced to compete for customers, which is how the FREE MARKET is supposed to work.

  33. 2ruefan says:
    Jun 12, 2015 12:48 PM
    It’s pretty obvious why the NFL won’t ever move to “pay per view” unless forced:

    It’s the same reason they required you to view your local team on telecasts and they blacked out the local team if it was not sold out.

    Because if all consumers could CHOOSE which games/teams they wanted to watch, the coverage of teams other then the currently successful or popular teams would plummet.

    Your AVERAGE NFL fan is a typical bandwagon fan.

    So, right now EVERYONE would be a Seattle Fan, or New England Fan or any other successful team.

    The sign-up for those teams would be enormous, and the people watching and following other teams would be limited to we hard-core fanatic fans who follow our teams year after year through think and thin regardless of their success.
    _______________________________

    So, tier the prices accordingly. Make Seahawks or Patriots season ticket cost $199, or $20 each game. On the flip, have Jaguars season ticket only cost $99, or $10 each game. And any purchase would include a Browns season ticket for no additional charge.

  34. So for about 60 bucks for the season you’d lose over a hundred games and the one you did get you get to watch on your laptop.

    What a deal

  35. It’s probably best for those of us who watch the games free on the net to let those who pay for them argue amongst themselves.

  36. People are missing the point about liking the sports package or illegally downloading the games. It’s that consumers are FORCED to buy a whole package and CHOICE is removed from them by companies violating the anti-trust laws.

    SparkyGump says:
    Jun 12, 2015 11:55 AM
    Pay….Per….View.

    Why is this so hard?
    ===========================================
    The NFL looked at what Pay per view has done to boxing. With the exception of 3-4 guys making bank on pay per view, the rest of the sport is dead to the average consumer. Also, teams may make millions off Pay per View but they make BILLIONS off sponsors and TV networks. No one is going to show commercials on Pay per View. The outrage would be massive.

  37. For a little extra, you can get a feature that digitally removes the other team from the field completely. Most of the time it’s a little weird with all the invisible tackles, but if you use it against the Jets it just looks like a line of guys running down an empty field for touchdowns over and over.

  38. You lose your brand by limiting the viewership by going pay per view, especially for regular season games. Everyone watches the NFL on TV for “free” which gains helps the sport gain fans who buy stuff. If you force them to pay to watch, they’ll just watch other sports on TV and lose interest in the NFL.

    I don’t think the NFL would even go pay per view for a major event such as the Super Bowl because they make so much from advertisers.

  39. Roger Goodell is going to have… eerrr… pay Ted Wells to do a 3-5 month investigation on this.

    Then, based on the Well’s findings, Goodell will make the decision and appoint Try Vincent to hand it down to DirectTV & it’s consumers.

    And lastly, if your unhappy & disagree with the outcome, you can choose to fight it. Which at that point, get this, Goodell will hear your appeal and make judgment again.

  40. Here is the one issue with Pay Per View. Price Point. Do you honestly think that the initial price will be less that 12.99 a game? This is the NFL they are never going to reduce the price so how many years will it be before it’s 20-25 per game?

    THEORY…

    The NFL is going to get backed in a corner sooner then later, with more people dumping conventional pay TV to move to streaming services means less ad dollars, less revenue and the end mega TV contracts to sports leagues.

    When this happens Pay Per View might be your only option, then as fans once again the NFL has you barrel and now wants Pay Per View and the going rate of attenting a game.

    Be careful what you wish for….

  41. So let me get this straight… The result is that consumers can buy 1/30th of the package for roughly 80% of the cost of the full package?

    Who in their right mind negotiated that settlement and why in the world would people even want to do that? Surely we can’t be talking a savings of more than about $60 to go from getting all the games to just the games your favorite team is playing. That’s like asking me if I want a BMW at full price or a Geo Metro for 20% off…. The leagues should be thrilled to sell individual team packages for that kind of scratch.

  42. bigbluefandom says:
    Jun 12, 2015 11:57 AM

    I like how people post that they buy Sunday ticket to watch ALL the games. How many games can you REALLY watch at one time?
    ———————————–
    There’s this thing, a remote control, it is used to switch from channel to channel without even having to get up and change the channel on the TV itself. It’s freakin amazing!

  43. The NFL should smarten up. The NFL has roughly 400 regular season games per year . Charge like $2-3 per out of market game and they would make a fortune ( at least a bigger fortune). I had direct TV and it was awful. I would buy at least a couple of games on ppv every weekend if given the chance.

    The NFL should throw the consumer a bone before someone starts to look at the anti-trust exemption again ….

  44. @bkostela
    That make too much sense.
    Which is why they won’t do it.

    Also, I was talking more about the “Package per team” not the “cost per game”.

    I wouldn’t be interested in buying on a game basis anyway.

    And they will NEVER do that. Then they TRULY can NOT control what games are watched by the masses, and thus can’t control their marketing they way they choose.

  45. Keep Sunday Ticket as is (every game) BUT, sell cable providers the ability to sell games for individual teams to consumers. That way DirecTV still gets what they paid for and people who don’t like DirecTV or can’t have it can still watch their team without having to head down to the local sports bar. With technology what it is today, there is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to purchase the Dolphins games while my neighbor purchases the Steelers games from the same cable provider. Even at 50% what the Sunday Ticket sells for, everybody profits (and the bars would still get ALL the games as they do now.

  46. whatjusthapped says:

    Oh boy, what is this, an attempt at a full employment act for lawyers?

    Law is complicated but the section on antitrust exceptions will make your head hurt but that’s where the lawyers come in, they will read the statue and find you a greivance.

    And if you ever wonder why they still teach Shakespeare in school, its for his famous, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” line.

    ============
    First of all, it’s a statute, not a statute.

    Secondly, you are misinterpreting the “kill all the lawyers” line from Shakespeare’s Henry VI. The person who says it, Jack Cade, wants to create societal disorder and chaos because he thinks it will help him become king. So, he suggests to kill all the lawyers, as that will eradicate the rule of law in society, creating utter disorder.

    Shakespeare was clearly implying that if you want society to crumble, you must eradicate its most important pillar – the rule of law.

    Obviously, they must not have taught Shakespeare at your school.

  47. imodan says:
    Jun 12, 2015 1:48 PM

    bigbluefandom says:
    Jun 12, 2015 11:57 AM

    I like how people post that they buy Sunday ticket to watch ALL the games. How many games can you REALLY watch at one time?
    ———————————–
    There’s this thing, a remote control, it is used to switch from channel to channel without even having to get up and change the channel on the TV itself. It’s freakin amazing!

    ROFLMAO!!!

  48. Well, considering I’m betting most of the game in one way or another, I like having them all. Shhh!!! Don’t tell God dell I’m gambling on the NFL and he’s not getting a piece of it!!!!

  49. bigbluefandom says:
    Jun 12, 2015 11:57 AM

    I like how people post that they buy Sunday ticket to watch ALL the games. How many games can you REALLY watch at one time?

    ——————————————-
    Why do you have to watch all the games at the same time? I watch one game at the 12pm (CST) and record another and d the same for the 3pm games. If I am not recording other games on at that time I flip through them to watch during commercials and halftime.

  50. whereyaat says:
    Jun 12, 2015 3:36 PM
    whatjusthapped says:

    “…where the lawyers come in, they will read the statue and find you a greivance.(sic)”

    ============
    First of all, it’s a statute, not a statute.
    —————–
    —————–
    Second of all, you need to be particularly careful when correcting someone else.

  51. My big problem with DirecTV is that I have to pay $300 to purchase Sunday Ticket even though I really just want NFL Red Zone. They won’t sell it on its own. Talk about a waste of money. Also, my neighbors who have cable get Red Zone as part of their regular sports package.

  52. bigbluefandom says:
    Jun 12, 2015 11:57 AM

    I like how people post that they buy Sunday ticket to watch ALL the games. How many games can you REALLY watch at one time?

    Three

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