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NFL Ordered to Pay Min. of $4.7 Billion in "Sunday Ticket" Case

The verdict has dropped in the NFL's Sunday Ticket lawsuit. On Thursday, according to ESPN, a jury in the U.S. District Court ruled that the NFL violated antitrust laws in distributing out-of-market Sunday afternoon games on a premium subscription service and ordered the NFL to pay more than $4.7 billion in damages.

The $4.7 billion in damages was given to the residential class, while the commercial class was awarded $96 million. The NFL could pay as much as $14.39 billion since damages can be tripled under federal antitrust laws. Initially filed in 2015, the lawsuit accused the NFL of violating antitrust laws by selling its Sunday games package at an inflated price. The league was also accused of restricting competition by offering its "Sunday Ticket" on a satellite provider only, which was DirecTV. The NFL has said that it will appeal the verdict.

"We are disappointed with the jury’s verdict today in the NFL Sunday Ticket class action lawsuit,” the NFL said in a statement. “We continue to believe that our media distribution strategy, which features all NFL games broadcast on free over-the-air television in the markets of the participating teams and national distribution of our most popular games…is by far the most fan friendly distribution model in all of sports and entertainment. We will certainly contest this decision as we believe that the class action claims in this case are baseless and without merit.”

DirecTV had "Sunday Ticket" from 1994 to 2022. In 2023, the NFL signed a seven-year deal with Google's YouTube TV, which charges fans $499 annually for the package. Post-trial motions will be heard on July 31, which could set aside the verdict. If it isn't, the NFL will appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court.

While this verdict isn't good for the NFL, it could hurt every team in the league, depending on how they want to handle paying for the damages. If the 32 teams were to split the bill, you'd be looking at nearly 450 million per team in that instance, which I imagine won't make an enclave of team owners happy with a commissioner they just gave a final contract to.

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