Networks escape Sunday Ticket class action

The networks that broadcast NFL games will no longer be required to answer for the way those broadcasts are bundled and sold by the NFL and DirecTV.

Via the Hollywood Reporter, NBC, CBS, FOX, and ESPN no longer appear as defendants in a class action that challenges the manner in which the league and its satellite partner market the NFL Sunday Ticket product.

This doesn’t mean that the networks will be immune from involvement in the case. For now, though, none of them face potential financial liability.

The lawsuits began last June, not long after the settlement of a challenge regarding the NHL’s distribution of games via DirecTV. Within a month, at least three class actions were filed. Now, all pending lawsuits have been consolidated into one case.

Apparently, the networks were added as some point in order to prevent consolidation, since the lawyers who filed the individuals cases presumably didn’t want to give up control over their own litigation. Once those efforts failed, the networks became unnecessary to the broader attack on the league’s exclusive distribution of out-of-market games through the Sunday Ticket package.

A key threshold question once the case gets to the substance and not the procedure will be whether the federal broadcast antitrust exemption applies to the distribution of out-of-market games. If it doesn’t, the end result of the litigation could be a requirement that each team be permitted to cut its own deal regarding the availability of games beyond the traditional broadcast marketplace, requiring (allowing) teams like the Cowboys and Packers and Steelers to make a lot more by selling, for example, streaming rights to their games beyond the markets where they otherwise are available via over-the-air broadcasts. (The other side of the coin would be that nationally unpopular teams — and they know who they are without me listing them — would make a lot less.)

If that happens, there would be dramatic changes to the way that football fans consume games that aren’t televised over FCC-regulated network affiliates in their local areas. If, for example, a Saints fan only wanted to see Saints games, the Saints fan would be able to buy the ability to watch all Saints games not otherwise televised for free in that fan’s geographic region. The price should be a lot less than buying the entire Sunday Ticket package, which is currently the only way for fans of one team to see that team’s games only.

The end result for the league would be dramatic fluctuations in the money the various teams make from broadcasting games. Absent a commitment to share among all 32 teams whatever any of them earns by selling out-of-market satellite, cable, or streaming rights on their own, it could create a significant disparity in revenue between the most and least nationally popular clubs.

53 responses to “Networks escape Sunday Ticket class action

  1. “The price should be a lot less than buying the entire Sunday Ticket package, which is currently the only way for fans of one team to see that team’s games only.”

    Unless, of course, you have no clear view of the southern sky and are thus locked out of any way to see that team’s games only.

    Any legal result that provides another option over DirecTV’s monopoly over the NFL package is a win for everyone.

  2. “The price should be a lot less than buying the entire Sunday Ticket package”

    Actually, I expect the opposite. The price negotiated by the team for all the teams non-broadcast games will be the same as their price for season tickets to attend the games, or a significant percentage of it.

  3. Directv Sunday Ticket easily costs less than what it would cost me and a friend to go to a single game. And it costs less than watching the games at a bar all season. And I watch far more football in less time because DVR allows me to skip the commercials.

  4. nfl Sunday ticket and DirecTV are the greatest inventions of the last 500 years

  5. So a fan will have to pay to see it’s favorite team? As a Direct TV Sunday ticket subscriber, it costs 360$ for every game, minus the Sunday night games, Monday night game, Thursday night games. Now if say my favorite team (and I happen to live in the market where my favorite team is.) Happens to be the for example the Dolphins, and I don’t live in that market, this is saying that team would have the right to stream it’s game and potentially costing more than the 360$ currently charged by Direct TV. Sounds like a bad deal for fans. Just another way for greedy owners to capitalize on a product.

  6. It is the exclusive rights aspect of Sunday ticket that people do not like. If the NFL sold Sunday ticket to DirecTV, Dish, FIOS, and other cable and internet companies for a third of the cost of directv’s deal, at least 4 companies would buy it (higher profit for NFL) more customers would have access and the individual cost would likely come down due to competition. Also, some companies would offer single team deals to generate more customers. Allowing individual teams to make their own deals would bring the same disparity that is killing baseball. That would also virtually eliminate the lawsuits.

  7. I hope the class wins. I’m not getting Directv just to watch NFL, I don’t have the time to watch 16 games a week so I’d be wasting money just to watch a couple of games a week. I only want to watch my team’s games and a few other games, not all of them.

  8. More lawsuit abuse. The NFL produces a product. They should be able to sell it at a price and in a fashion that the free market permits. If they err by overpricing their product, people won’t buy it and may start watching more college football.

  9. Birdgang says:
    Jun 26, 2016 11:03 AM
    Directv Sunday Ticket easily costs less than what it would cost me and a friend to go to a single game. And it costs less than watching the games at a bar all season. And I watch far more football in less time because DVR allows me to skip the commercials.
    ***********************************************
    I couldn’t agree more. The cost of the Ticket is a steal to those that love the NFL.

  10. “Someday ALL NFL games will be pay per view because going to a game will be out of everyone’s price range (except the 1%ers).”

    The price of going to a game is already out of range for most people…especially when you consider the cost of parking, concessions, and having to deal with traffic jams and possibly crappy weather conditions….all of this for the “privilege” of sitting in nosebleed seats or behind the end zones. It’s much more comfortable to just stay at home and watch on your big screen TV.

  11. I have had directv for over 8 years and i have NEVER paid for sunday ticket. Every year when its time to re-up I just tell them only if I get the ticket for free and they agree every year.

    Directv/Sunday ticket are the greatest thing ever. Could you imagine having to watch the browns/lions all year every year simply because you couldn’t afford to move?

  12. People keep talking of DirecTV having a monopoly. How can it be a monopoly if the NFL simply takes the highest bidder? DirecTV pays for the exclusive rights for NFLST. Seems rather simple to me.

  13. ITT: People who dont use technology to their advantage.

    I watch in my own living room. Every game. On 4 different TVs. For the price of my internet plus $10 a month to a third party subscription for the games. Cut the cord people.

  14. When this is all settled it’s going to be fantastic……

    For the lawyers.

  15. I cannot get DirectV because of the trees on my neighbors property.. i would like to get my choice on cable (Comcrap) to the game or games that are not broadcast in my area. I listen to my team on internet radio which is sometime good because I can listen and clean the garage or work on a project in the garage.

  16. I watch in my own living room. Every game. On 4 different TVs. For the price of my internet plus $10 a month to a third party subscription for the games. Cut the cord people.

    ????? What is the name of the third party subscription??????

  17. The NFL is a group of private owners. The NFL should be able to cut any distribution deal that they want even if it doesn’t make sense to you and I.
    The government shouldn’t be involved with how private entities choose to distribute their private content.

  18. Since at&t owns DirectTV I assume the Sunday ticket will be available on the at&t U-verse package. Doubt it will be cheaper but at least you won’t need satellite.

  19. Folks, NEWSFLASH! There are plenty of ways to see any and every game, anywhere – some paid and some not, if you just do your due diligence and poke around. DirecTV is for the uninformed masses.

  20. I know the NBC and Goodell shills aren’t going to like this, but until the league decides to broadcast every game, everywhere, the fans are going to continue watching them on internet wild feeds, most of which substitute commercials.

  21. I would prefer an a la carte option on my regular cable. My only option for non national broadcast games is dish or going to the local bar to watch it on the Sunday ticket. Which in Austin, there’s several good options to go watch the Vikings games on Sunday ticket but it’s usually regulated to a small tv in the corner of the bar and if the place is packed could be hard to get adequate seating. I don’t mind being in a bar with other teams fan clubs watching their games and makes it a fun atmosphere but sometimes you just want to sit back with some cold brews on your lazy boy watching the game on your tv at home. Individual game pricing would be a nice option.

  22. If you love football Sunday Ticket is the way to go. As mentioned above the cost for the entire season is cheaper than going to a single game for my family and I. Plus, no lines for the bathrooms, eat and drink whatever we want for half the cost, WE are the only drunken idiots we have to deal with and no traffic after the game.

    Long live DirecTV and NFL Sunday Ticket!

  23. “…make a lot more by selling, for example, streaming rights to their games beyond the markets where they otherwise are available via over-the-air broadcasts.”

    At which point they can double-dip for commercial breaks, since they don’t want home market commercials streamed to a different market. It’s just figuring out a way to sell those spots in a generic way.

    I’m not saying I would pay for it. I receive enough games, including my favorite team, with a rooftop antenna. When they stop broadcasting, I’ll stop watching. Or even caring. Kinda like my relationships with the NBA and MLB…

  24. Snaponrules says:
    Jun 26, 2016 11:48 AM
    I have had directv for over 8 years and i have NEVER paid for sunday ticket. Every year when its time to re-up I just tell them only if I get the ticket for free and they agree every year.
    ******************************************
    Are you just making stuff up? Directv has two year contracts (not one like you say) and there is no re-ups, you are just charged until you cancel. I also know for a fact that they rarely give ticket for free to existing customers and they definitely won’t every single year like you claim.

  25. Just allow DirecTV – which is now owned by AT&T – to offer NFL Sunday Ticket as a streaming package available to everyone on any device. Most people who start out only watching their home team, quickly start channel hopping to other games or tune in to RedZone channel on every commercial break.

  26. The Sunday Ticket is available online. You no longer need a satellite dish or service. Watch it anywhere on multiple platforms.FYI

  27. I got Sunday Ticket To Go last season. Never again. Quality only seemed adequate in the second half of games, the interface wouldn’t play several of the available games a lot of the time, and the pauses and glitches and dropping in and out of HD was unbearable. And I live in Atlanta and have exceptional internet service.

    $200 for a product not nearly as good as what’s stealable online. Good job, NFL.

  28. Sunday Ticket doesn’t even cost that much.

    As long as you call to cancel service every year before the season starts and tell them you want to cancel sunday ticket also they’ll do anything to keep your business.

    I do it every year. Every other year they give me Sunday ticket for free. The ‘off’ year I only have to make 1 payment of $90. You’ll also get a handful of discounts to your bill at the same time.

    The cost of acquiring customers in the TV industry is MUCH higher than the cost to retain one with some freebies. So make sure you call and threaten to cancel every year. I always do it after the first Sunday Ticket charge shows up on my bill, so it looks like I’m actually intending to cancel because it costs too much, lol.

  29. quicktaker says:
    Jun 26, 2016 12:42 PM
    The NFL is a group of private owners. The NFL should be able to cut any distribution deal that they want even if it doesn’t make sense to you and I.
    The government shouldn’t be involved with how private entities choose to distribute their private content.

    ——————–
    That would be true if these same teams/owners were given public subsidies and tax breaks.

  30. Typ0 –
    That would be true if these same teams/owners werent given public subsidies and tax breaks.

  31. firejerry says:
    Jun 26, 2016 12:28 PM
    I watch in my own living room. Every game. On 4 different TVs. For the price of my internet plus $10 a month to a third party subscription for the games. Cut the cord people.

    ????? What is the name of the third party subscription??????
    —————————————
    If he told ya he’d have to kill ya. 🙂 Meanwhile all I want is the redzone channel. 6 hours of commercial free football. God Bless America!!

  32. @quicktaker says:
    Jun 26, 2016 12:42 PM

    The NFL is a group of private owners. The NFL should be able to cut any distribution deal that they want even if it doesn’t make sense to you and I.
    The government shouldn’t be involved with how private entities choose to distribute their private content.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    The government is already involved…it’s that little thing called Anti-Trust Exemption. Once in a great while, Congress makes noise about reviewing and the owners kick-in more $$$ to their congressmen/women.

  33. I’m so over Sunday Ticket. I loved using my C-ban satellite to get games free. I had Sunday Ticket back when it was $99 (decades ago!). Now I primarily watch NFL Redzone so I can see the plays that matter. Sunday Ticket I was missing action because of channel hopping.

    I will go to 1 or 2 games per year in person.

  34. Zoning where I live prohibits satellite dishes. Thus, IMO, Sunday Ticket should not be exclusive to DirecTV, but available through all cable systems. There should also be an online option to purchase Sunday Ticket.
    On the upside, I grew up as a Browns fan, and I reside in suburban Cleveland. So, I get to have 16 weeks of misery for free every season!

  35. If, for example, a Saints fan only wanted to see Saints games, the Saints fan would be able to buy the ability to watch all Saints games not otherwise televised for free in that fan’s geographic region. The price should be a lot less than buying the entire Sunday Ticket package, which is currently the only way for fans of one team to see that team’s games only.

    This. Thing is, back in the day, for us Sunday Ticket Legacy members (no such thing really), if you called to cancel DirecTV, you could always get the Sunday Ticket for half the price.

    Now? Forget about it. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been with them.. They keep up’ing the price. There’s no such thing as a “loyal NFL Sunday Ticket” subscriber. Early adopters? Pffft.. They don’t need you anymore.

    The thing is? If Congress ever would take their hands out of DirecTV’s pockets, they’d realize: DirecTV holds a monopoly on NFL games via a television medium.

    Thank goodness there’s an internet. The late-adopting NFL really needs to put on the big girl panties and REALLY make it available to every single fan.

    Ah well.. that’s my sportscenter moment.

  36. Zoning where I live prohibits satellite dishes. Thus, IMO, Sunday Ticket should not be exclusive to DirecTV, but available through all cable systems. There should also be an online option to purchase Sunday Ticket.
    On the upside, I grew up as a Browns fan, and I reside in suburban Cleveland. So, I get to have 16 weeks of misery for free every season!
    ____________________

    Zoning regulations can’t trump federal laws allowing you to have an antenna to tune in licensed FCC programming. Being in Cleveland and a Browns fan is another problem in and of itself.

  37. Of COURSE the liberal networks are all exempt from any liabaility for anything. Liberals ALWAYS get some sort of immunity. meanwhile, Directv and the NFL will get hammered by ABC, NBC, CBS, and ESPN for being “greedy” blah blah blah.
    If I were a reporter, for oh let’s say Breitbart, I would ask NBC, ABC, CBS, and ESPN how much their advertising rates are INCREASED solely for NFL games. By the way, increased rates = PROFITS for NBC, ABC, CBS, and ESPN.
    But as I said before, the liberal narrative is that evil capitalist organizations like the NFL and Directv, should be vilified for trying to make profits while flower-children, earth-loving, peace-loving, we-only do-charities associated with the Clintons, are absolved of any criticism for making profits because they have their handy dandy liberal cards that exempt them from criticism.

  38. harvestern says:
    Jun 26, 2016 3:04 PM

    Are you just making stuff up? Directv has two year contracts (not one like you say) and there is no re-ups, you are just charged until you cancel. I also know for a fact that they rarely give ticket for free to existing customers and they definitely won’t every single year like you claim.

    ******************************************************************************************

    2 year contracts are only for the first two years. After that you can pay month to month OR they would prefer you to sign another 1 year contract. You only have to sign a new two year contract if you upgrade your equipment.

    Your facts are wrong, as I have never paid for sunday ticket in 8 years. You have to learn to play the game. When you are out of contract you can go anywhere you want. In order to keep you on another 1 year contract (which they will want to) they will give you about great deals and they have never said no about NFLST/redzone for free

  39. Its only 200 dollars for every game in the nfl season..you can break that into 8 payments if you want..thats like 25 dollars a month..if you cant afford that then you should not watch football and go get another part time job because the job you have must suck to not be able to afford 25 dollars a month

  40. Anton Yelchin says:
    Jun 26, 2016 11:15 AM

    nfl Sunday ticket and DirecTV are the greatest inventions of the last 500 years

    —-

    Yes, even greater than the invention that put the satellites in space in the first place.

  41. Considering there are only a few watchable NFL games on a week and almost all of them are on the regular networks, im surprised anyone wastes money of NFL Ticket anymore.

    A few years ago i had it, and it was pretty much a waste of 300 bucks.

  42. As long as NFL Sunday Ticket is available regardless of market, I’m okay with it.

    I’m going to have to find a way to buy it as primetime football is going to be NOTHING but constant Dallas Cowboys football!!!

  43. harvestern says:
    Jun 26, 2016 3:04 PM

    Are you just making stuff up? Directv has two year contracts (not one like you say) and there is no re-ups, you are just charged until you cancel. I also know for a fact that they rarely give ticket for free to existing customers and they definitely won’t every single year like you claim.

    He’s not making stuff up. Every year before the renewal kicks in, I call DTV and negotiate the price for Sunday Ticket down. It’s that easy. Whether reduced pricing and other promotions I end up paying nothing for it. Contract or not, it’s still easy to do. I’ve been doing it for 11 years now.

  44. Patriots fan here, living in Wisconsin. Have been paying for Sunday Ticket for a minimal of 16 years which is how long I’ve lived out of the New England area.

    Directv is ripping people off!!! Sure $360 is cheaper than going to a game, but I only want to watch my team, not every other game. Let me pay to watch my team only and I’m happy.

    I call and try to negotiate the price down every year. Used to be able to pay half, now they only give you $40-$50 off the total cost.

    I guess loyalty means nothing to Directv. Especially when someone signs up for Directv and gets Sunday Ticket for free.

  45. I live in the geographic area of my team and all games are shown here but I still have the Directv Sunday Ticket because I am a football fan and like to watch any game at any time. I do hope that this drives down the price but it could have an opposite effect, as Directv paid a huge sum for the rights and the price has to worth the risk.

    Also, I wonder how this will affect future Cap figures in the league as this is a huge reason for the recent increases. If Directv doesn’t make the same profits, the next contract could be less and/or no Sunday Ticket at all meaning the cap figures will diminish.

  46. DirecTV, by far the worst customer service in the industry but why would the NFL care about that if their making a ton of money with this relationship?

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