Axios Pro Exclusive Content

NFL takes the stand in Sunday Ticket antitrust trial

Jun 5, 2024
Illustration of a person throwing a football, but their head is a TV with a hypnotic pattern.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

An antitrust lawsuit brought against the NFL nine years ago over its Sunday Ticket TV package finally heads to trial in Los Angeles this week.

Why it matters: If the plaintiffs are successful in proving the league violated antitrust law, it could reshape how NFL teams' out-of-market rights are distributed.

Zoom in: A group of Sunday Ticket subscribers filed the suit in 2015. It became a class action last year, representing 2.4 million residential customers and 48,000 businesses that got the sports package through DirecTV between 2011 and 2022.

  • The class-action lawsuit argues the league broke antitrust rules by forcing fans who wanted to watch out-of-market games to buy the entire Sunday Ticket package at an inflated price.
  • The league countered that Sunday Ticket, which only features games played between teams outside of fans' home markets, was more akin to a premium subscription product like HBO.
  • All in-market games are aired by free, over-the-air broadcasters in those markets.
  • The NFL moved Sunday Ticket from DirecTV to YouTube in 2023.

The bottom line: A win for the plaintiffs could lead to damages of more than $6 billion.

  • More importantly, it could lead to an injunction of the league's current Sunday Ticket deal and change how teams can be broadcasted outside of their home markets.
  • Witnesses for the case could include NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

What's next: The trial, which begins jury selection Wednesday, is expected to last until the end of June.

Go deeper