What Seahawks fans should know about the NFL Sunday Ticket lawsuit

The NFL is in court again arguing its case for the high price of the NFL Sunday Ticket. Will fans win this time?
Seattle Seahawks fans
Seattle Seahawks fans / Jane Gershovich/GettyImages

For many years the NFL has been battling any issues related to the Sunday Ticket. The problem is that between 1994 and 2022, the NFL Sunday Ticket - the subscriber-based way of watching nearly any and every NFL game - was part of DirectTV only. That was (is?) a satellite streamer that not many people probably wanted other than for NFL games. In 2023, YouTubeTV took over the Sunday Ticket.

While this allowed anyone willing to pay to access games, the cost was too much for many. Even with a one-year discount, Seattle Seahawks fans, especially those outside the local area, had to pay at least $349 for the Sunday Ticket. For many, that price could jump to $449 in 2024. That's food money.

According to a report by Yahoo! Sports, AppleTV was in the running to pick up the Sunday Ticket before YouTubeTV won the contract.

What Seahawks fans need to know about the NFL Sunday Ticket lawsuit

Yahoo! Sports, said, "AppleTV, for example, proposed making the Sunday Ticket part of its offerings at no additional charge. And according to CourthouseNews.com, an email presented into evidence showed ESPN wanted to charge just $70 for the entire season and offer the option of buying the games of just one team." The league said, "No thanks!"

The league is being sued for price poaching and knowingly making the price so high knowing many would pay it anyway. For the next few weeks in Los Angeles, the league will be arguing its case that it didn't price gouge.

Potentially, a jury and judge could find that the league did set the price too high, but this seems unlikely because the NFL will try to invoke its antitrust protection. Fans winning and paying less seems unlikely. Plus, an attorney for the NFL, Beth Wilkinson, may have already tipped the underlying reason the NFL wants the price to be too high for most.

In speaking to the jury, Wilkinson said, "The case is about choice. This is a valuable, premium product. Think about all the choices available to fans. We want as many people as possible to watch the free broadcasts."

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Bingo! The NFL makes a lot of money off the Sunday Ticket, sure, but they make a lot more money by keeping their broadcast partners happy. This means forcing people to watch local broadcasts with different commercials than what one would see on the NFL Sunday Ticket. The commercials pay the bills of the broadcasters who are then paying money to the NFL to show games. Unhappy sponsors mean unhappy broadcasters which could lead to less money for the league.

Plus, Wilkinson is not correct unless she means the NFL wants to keep people from making a choice. Most football fans would love to have access to any game they want to see without not making a car payment for one month. That is the choice for fans. The NFL arguing that the price of the Sunday Ticket is sensible and that it leads to more choices for fans is illogical.

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