(NEW YORK CITY) —The 32 teams in the National Football League (NFL) have unlawfully agreed to eliminate competition among themselves in broadcasting NFL games, according to a class action lawsuit filed in federal court. Represented by Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, bar owners and football fans from around the country seek an injunction to put an end to this anticompetitive arrangement and damages to compensate for the overcharges they have paid in purchasing access to live NFL broadcasts.
The lawsuit, filed on Oct. 16, 2015, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges that the NFL’s teams agreed to sell broadcasts only collectively, forgoing any effort to market their games individually. It alleges that CBS, Fox, ESPN, NBC, and DirecTV have facilitated and encouraged this agreement by, among other things, insisting that the agreement remain in place and paying more for the exclusivity it enables.
“NFL teams compete for fans and glory, but they refuse to compete for viewers,” said Jeffrey Dubner, an attorney in Cohen Milstein’s Antitrust Practice Group. “When multibillion-dollar businesses violate the antitrust laws, we all lose. Without this agreement, sports fans would have more ways to watch football and pay fair, lower prices.”
Cohen Milstein is no stranger to tackling anticompetitive agreements in the sports broadcasting industry. Together with its co-counsel, Langer Grogan & Diver PLLC, Cohen Milstein has successfully litigated cases against the National Hockey League (NHL) and Major League Baseball (MLB) for their own anticompetitive arrangements. The NHL case, Laumann v. NHL, settled in 2015, with the NHL agreeing to offer nationwide single-team packages, the first time American sports fans have been able to purchase their favorite team’s games without having to buy a bundle of the entire league’s games. The MLB case, Garber v. MLB, is scheduled for trial in January 2016, after Cohen Milstein and Langer Grogan defeated defendants’ motions for summary judgment and won certification of a class seeking injunctive relief.
In addition to Jeffrey Dubner, the plaintiffs are represented by Richard Koffman Cohen Milstein; and Howard Langer, Edward Diver, and Peter Leckman of Langer Grogan and Diver.
Complaint - October 19, 2015