The NFL and DirecTV likely will be glad when summer ends, and not just because football season has arrived.
The latest has been filed in federal court in California, on behalf of the Gael Pub in New York City and all restaurants and bars that purchased the package during the relevant time period. The allegations are similar to the claims made in the July lawsuit filed by a San Francisco establishment regarding the limited availability and pricing of out-of-market games.
The complaint, a copy of which PFT has obtained, alleges that the sliding-scale of package prices based on maximum occupancy ranges from $1,458 per year to more than $120,000 annually.
All three cases have been filed since a settlement was announced in litigation against DirecTV over its NHL package. It appeared at the time that the settlement would spark a renewed attack on Sunday Ticket. The renewed attacks so far have occurred monthly.
It’s clear that the NFL and DirecTV are potentially violating antitrust laws by forcing consumers to purchase the whole package even if they only want one game, and by charging rates unaffected by competition to bars and restaurants that attract customers by making all games available for simultaneous viewing. The question is whether the broadcast antitrust exemption, or any other exemption or defense, allows the league and the satellite provider to dominate the market and to dictate whether a fan must buy all out-of-market games in order to see just the one about which he or she cares.