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The NFL’s $20B “Sunday Ticket” Gamble

nfl Minnesota Vikings v Kansas City Chiefs
If the plaintiffs win, and a judge decides that injunctive relief is necessary to address NFL teams colluding with each other, the league’s ongoing “Sunday Ticket” deal with YouTubeTV could be canceled. Photo: David Eulitt/Getty Images
Eriq Gardner
June 4, 2024

Years ago, when I was a young and broke New Yorker, I would nurse a single beer at a bar for a good three hours to watch a Los Angeles Rams game. Yes, I could have subscribed to the “Sunday Ticket” package, then distributed through DirecTV, and watched the game at home, but that cost a couple hundred bucks. What I really wanted was a way to sign up for just Rams games—the other 31 teams be damned. Still, when “Sunday Ticket” subscribers sued in 2015, alleging that the NFL’s refusal to offer that very product amounted to a conspiracy, it sounded a little bonkers… even to me. 

Flash forward to today, and that legal action, after some remarkable twists and turns, is finally headed to trial—and there’s $20 billion on the line. Some headlines say $6 billion, based on an economist’s comparison of what “Sunday Ticket” costs consumers (currently $349-a-year for individuals, much more for bars and restaurants) and what the cost would be in a hypothetical market where the NFL operates more like college sports, with various teams or divisions each licensing game telecasts and fans being able to subscribe to smaller packages. But the final number could theoretically be much higher. The plaintiffs are seeking a tripling of actual damages (in line with antitrust law), plus interest.