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NFL Executive Escapes Testifying in High-Stakes Trial Over Televised Games

 |  May 16, 2024

In a ruling on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez of Los Angeles delivered a blow to plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit challenging National Football League (NFL) restrictions on televised games. The judge granted the NFL’s motion to block a trial subpoena aimed at compelling Hans Schroeder, the league’s Executive Vice President of Media Distribution, to testify live at the upcoming trial.

The lawsuit, set to commence on June 5, alleges collusion between the NFL and its member teams, along with television broadcast partners, to tightly control game distribution. Plaintiffs argue that this control has artificially inflated the price of the Sunday Ticket package, a subscription service allowing viewers to watch out-of-market NFL games. Both residential and commercial subscribers, including bars, hotels, and restaurants, seek damages amounting to billions of dollars for what they perceive as overcharges.

Read more: NFL’s Exclusive Streaming of Playoff Game Raises Antitrust Concerns

However, Gutierrez’s recent rulings have shaped the trajectory of the upcoming trial, determining which evidence will be admissible. The NFL’s successful bid to prevent Schroeder from testifying live, citing his residence in New York and prior deposition, marks a strategic victory for the league. Nonetheless, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Brian Rolapp, Schroeder’s supervisor who oversees Sunday Ticket, are expected to provide in-person testimony.

The NFL has vehemently denied the allegations, asserting that its distribution practices are fair and designed to uphold the quality of the product. Notably, the defendants in this case are exclusively the NFL and its member teams; neither DirecTV nor YouTube TV, the current carrier of Sunday Ticket, are implicated.

Despite the setback in compelling live testimony from Schroeder, the plaintiffs retain the option to present a videotaped deposition of the executive.

Source: Reuters