A PYMNTS Company

NFL Petitions Judge to Overturn $4.7 Billion ‘Sunday Ticket’ Verdict

 |  July 7, 2024

In a high-stakes legal battle, the National Football League (NFL) has formally requested that a judge nullify a $4.7 billion class action jury verdict, labeling the award “nonsensical” and rejecting claims that subscribers to its “Sunday Ticket” broadcasts were overcharged. The league filed its appeal on Wednesday, calling for either a reversal of the jury’s decision or the commencement of a new trial, according to a Reuters report.

The dispute stems from a June 28 verdict by a Los Angeles federal jury, which concluded that the NFL’s agreements with broadcast partners unfairly limited the availability of “Sunday Ticket.” This restriction allegedly allowed DirecTV, the service’s former exclusive distributor, to impose inflated prices on subscribers.

Court records reveal that the jury’s $4.7 billion award is based on calculations of overcharges affecting 24.1 million residential subscribers over a 12-year period, amounting to $4.6 billion. Additionally, the jury accounted for $96.9 million in overcharges to approximately 506,780 commercial subscribers, such as bars and restaurants.

Related: NFL Antitrust Verdict Amounts to $4.7 Billion in ‘Sunday Ticket’ Case

The plaintiffs, invoking U.S. antitrust laws that permit tripling of damage awards, have requested U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez to increase the total to over $14 billion.

“Sunday Ticket” remains the sole option for fans wishing to view out-of-market games, with current residential subscriptions costing up to $449 through its new distributor, Google’s YouTube. Notably, neither DirecTV nor Google were defendants in this case.

The lawsuit claimed that the high “Sunday Ticket” prices were a deliberate strategy to restrict subscriptions and preserve the distribution rights fees that CBS and Fox paid to broadcast local games. The NFL has contested these allegations, arguing in its filing that the jury’s decision was based on flawed testimony from two of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, whom the league described as “unreliable.”

The NFL further criticized the jury’s methodology, stating that the awarded amount incorrectly used the list price for “Sunday Ticket” and considered subscriber discounts as overcharges. “The verdict in this case is at once among the largest in American history and also among the least defensible,” the NFL asserted.

Source: Reuters