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Law

NFL Declined ESPN Offer to Drastically Reduce Sunday Ticket Price

  • Plaintiffs allege the NFL illegally inflated costs and access to Sunday Ticket.
  • NFL’s chief media officer appears to be contradicting his own testimony.
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Sunday Ticket lawsuit is far from over, but so far the league has been getting sacked in court. 

The case, which is taking place in Los Angeles, alleges the NFL illegally inflated the cost of Sunday Ticket and forced fans to purchase every available game instead of a select number. 

Recent testimony from the antitrust trial shows the league had no interest in cutting prices or making the viewing package more accessible to fans, despite that being part of the NFL’s public messaging.

“Our model is the best in the world,” Brian Rolapp, the NFL’s chief media and business officer, said during the trial. “We try to think about what the fan wants and get as much distribution as possible.”

According to Courthouse News Service, Apple’s 2022 bid for Sunday Ticket would have added as many as 20 million new customers to the product. The league took a pass. Apple wound up backing out of its bid in December of that year. 

According to Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s deposition, which was played in court last week, “We’re not looking to get lots of people. We want to keep it as a premium offering.”

Along those lines, ESPN proposed radically cutting the price of Sunday Ticket, to just $70 for the entire 2023 season, according to Courthouse News Service. The ESPN proposal, ultimately rejected by the league, also included single-team packages. (YouTube TV is currently offering Sunday Ticket at $349 for the 2024 season.) The NFL wasn’t interested in the ESPN proposal, according to an email from Rolapp that was shown in court.

The trial started June 7 and could go on for several more weeks. Plaintiffs, which include bars and restaurants in addition to hundreds of individuals, are seeking $7 billion in damages, which is subject to mandatory tripling, according to U.S. antitrust law, making the NFL’s bill as high as $21 billion.

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