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NFL, DirecTV $12 Billion Deal Target of Antitrust Lawsuit

Group of bar and restaurant owners file suit Monday, saying arrangement violates Sherman Antitrust Act

The NFL and DirecTV are facing a new antitrust lawsuit related to their $12 billion deal around their Sunday Ticket package.

“This exclusive deal allows DirecTV to charge supracompetitive prices for NFL Sunday Ticket,” the lawsuit states. “DirecTV’s arrangement with the NFL allows the Defendants to restrict the output of, and raise the prices for, the live broadcast of NFL Sunday afternoon out of market games.”

Antitrust lawyer Michael Hausfeld filed the suit on behalf of a group of bar and restaurant owners who claim the TV package, which covers all out-of-market football games, is unfairly priced, in violation of sections one and two of the Sherman Antitrust Act. According to the lawsuit, a bar with a 100 person occupancy will pay $2,314 for Sunday Ticket in 2015. Bigger establishments, like hotels, can be charged more than $120,000 per year.

The suit states that the NFL/DirecTV deal is the only one in which a major sport has an exclusive out of market broadcasting arrangement. “As a result, DirecTV does not charge nearly as much for access to MLB Extra Innings, NBA League Pass, and NHL Center Ice, which provide more games per week over a longer season than the NFL,” the suit reads.

It then breaks down the pricing for different size establishments for Sunday Ticket and Extra Innings. The NFL package costs nearly three times as much.

The suit goes on to claim that the current NFL/DirecTV deal prevents other multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) like Comcast and Time-Warner Cable from broadcasting out of market games, thus allowing the league and DirecTV to set unreasonable prices.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

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