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Disney Seeks Dismissal of Antitrust Class Action by TV Streamers Over Subscription Price Hikes

 |  December 4, 2023

In a recent development, entertainment behemoth Walt Disney Co. has filed a motion to dismiss a proposed class action lawsuit brought forth by TV streamers. The plaintiffs, comprising subscribers of YouTube and DirecTV, have alleged that Disney violated antitrust laws through agreements that purportedly led to subscription price increases.

According to Disney’s motion to dismiss, filed on Friday in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, the plaintiffs failed to provide sufficient evidence that Disney’s agreements unreasonably restrained trade. The entertainment conglomerate is seeking to quash the amended complaint on these grounds.

At the center of the dispute is Disney’s control over streaming giant Hulu and ESPN. The plaintiffs argue that Disney’s dominion over these platforms has afforded the company considerable leverage in negotiating contracts for the sports network and its affiliated channels. This, they claim, has translated into Disney wielding significant power over pricing dynamics in the TV streaming market.

Read more: New Suit Claims Disney Uses Hulu, ESPN To Raise Streaming Costs

The proposed class action asserts that the alleged anticompetitive conduct by Disney has directly contributed to subscription price hikes, impacting the wallets of YouTube and DirecTV subscribers. However, Disney contends that the plaintiffs have not presented compelling evidence to support the claim that the company’s agreements unfairly restrained trade in the market.

While the legal battle is in its early stages, the outcome could have broader implications for the streaming industry, given the increasing importance of streaming services in the entertainment landscape. The case will likely hinge on whether the plaintiffs can establish a connection between Disney’s contractual dealings and the alleged antitrust violations resulting in higher subscription costs for consumers.

Source: News Bloomberg Law