Joseph M. Hanna, Goldberg Segalla partner and Sports and Entertainment Practice Group Chair, told Law360 that the legal challenge against the National Football League for its exclusive deal with DirecTV has the potential to drag on for years and lead to a loss of revenue for the league.
As a result of the exclusive deal, DirecTV is the only place where customers can watch every NFL game every week. Subscribers, bars, and restaurants who have purchased the DirecTV Sunday Ticket package have filed lawsuits against the NFL, alleging the deal constitutes an antitrust violation by unlawfully inflating the cost of the package and eliminating competition from other providers.
The National Hockey League and Major League Baseball have recently faced similar legal challenges.
“If the NFL were to cut the package price down to be more in line with the other sport packages, it would be legitimately losing millions of dollars in revenue that it is used to receiving every season,” Joe told Law360. “As well, the MLB lawsuit was not settled for nearly four years — compare that to the NFL, which has more to lose than the MLB did and probably more money to dish out in any form of settlement, and you can imagine that this lawsuit will likely drag on for years in litigation.”
Joe also noted that if the lawsuit continues throughout the 2016 season, it will create another legal headache for the league as it continues to deal with other challenges.
“After the negative publicity the league has been getting the last few years, it could use a win in this case,” Joe said. “Ultimately, if the suit isn’t tossed or moved to arbitration, the NFL may lose some of the exclusive power it has long held in controlling the influx of revenue through media channels.”