DirecTV, NFL face class-action suit over Sunday Ticket bundling

DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) and the NFL have been hit with a class-action suit, alleging that the bundling of games in the NFL Sunday Ticket package violates antitrust laws.

The suit, filed in a California federal court by Thomas Abrahamian, says Sunday Ticket subscribers shouldn't have to pay several hundred dollars for the pro football league's entire spectrum of out-of-market games just to follow one team or see an individual game.

"The league and DirecTV offer NFL Sunday Ticket only as all-or-nothing," the complaint alleges. "Purchasers of NFL Sunday Ticket must buy all out-of-market games for all teams even if they are only interested in watching the games of a particular team. Likewise, consumers must buy the complete season of games and may not purchase individual games."

Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League have been hit with similar class-action suits for their out-of-market streaming and pay-TV bundles--NFL Sunday Ticket has been included in those suits, as well.

Notably, the NBA announced plans to unbundle its out-of-market OTT and pay-TV programming service, League Pass, saying that it will allow League Pass users to purchase only individual games, or purchase games only from an individual team. No pricing details have yet been announced. 

DirecTV recently re-upped its contract to be the exclusive distributor of NFL Sunday Ticket, which delivers live out-of-market game feeds for the league's 32 teams. DirecTV pays the league $1.5 billion a season under the new deal. The package does not allow subscribers to parse out games and teams. 

"A Cleveland Browns fan living in California cannot watch the Browns play, except occasional games on network television, unless he purchases the entire package of League games from NFL Sunday Ticket," states the complaint.

For more:
- read this Hollywood Reporter story
- read this NBC Sports report
- read this class-action lawsuit

Related articles:
NFL plans to stream Jaguars-Bills game over the top this fall
NFL finally ends TV blackout rule for 2015 season
DirecTV ups NFL Sunday Ticket base price 5%
NBA unbundles its League Pass OTT platform, offers a la carte access to individual games

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