Class action plaintiffs pressure NFL to reveal why Sunday Ticket deal with Apple disintegrated

Before the NFL sold the rights for its popular “Sunday Ticket” out-of-market games package to Google’s YouTube, for $2.1 billion annually, Apple was widely viewed as the frontrunner before talks imploded. Now, the class action plaintiffs want the NFL to reveal why the deal with Apple disintegrated.

Apple eyes NFL streaming deal for Apple TV+

Daniel Kaplan for The Athletic:

In a decision filed Tuesday, federal magistrate judge John McDermott wrote that the NFL had plenty of contenders for the service, which had been with DirecTV since its inception in 1994. The NFL was required under the lawsuit’s discovery terms to disclose all documents about Sunday Ticket once a final deal had been struck, which occurred on Dec. 22, 2022.

The NFL on Jan. 13 turned over 667 pages of documents, wrote Judge McDermott, including, “Proposals from third parties Google, Apple, Amazon, Roku and ESPN regarding the rights to Sunday Ticket package,” and “discussions both within the NFL and with third parties about the potential of NFL distributing the Sunday Ticket package itself.”

The disclosures came as part of the long-running antitrust class action brought by a group of bars and individuals and aimed at how the service could only be accessed through DirecTV, and now YouTube.

The plaintiffs are particularly interested in why the Apple talks failed.

“Plaintiffs also are concerned that there are few documents regarding the breakdown of negotiations between Apple and the NFL,” McDermott wrote. “Public reporting suggests the negotiations broke down because the NFL refused to let Apple distribute local games or offer Sunday Ticket at significantly lower prices. The NFL, however, argues that documents it has produced suggest numerous reasons why the negotiations failed. None of the reasons cited by (the) NFL and Apple contained any reference to Sunday Ticket package pricing.”

Apple has been subpoenaed as part of the lawsuit and turned over documents.

MacDailyNews Note: On February 7th, a U.S. federal judge certified two classes in the case, laying the foundation for the lawsuit which seeks some $6 billion in damages for the alleged extra costs paid due to the exclusivity of NFL Sunday Ticket on a sole distribution platform.

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  1. I would think that cities and states would sue to find out what happened, since a lot of public money goes into the NFL through stadiums and tax breaks, yet many of the people can’t easily access the actual item.

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