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Anti-Trust Case Against DirecTV, NFL Will Proceed

“The plaintiffs allege that since the NFL Sunday Ticket package is a product sold to customers, it violates the anti-trust laws.”

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The Ninth Circuit Federal Court has overturned an October 2017 ruling that DirecTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket package does not violate federal anti-trust laws. The case will now proceed to a circuit court judge, and if the plaintiffs win, that could mean more choices at a lower price tag for football fans.

Robert Litan of The Athletic reports that the three judges hearing the case voted 2-1 to hear the complaints of residential and commercial DirecTV subscribers. The plaintiffs argue that DirecTV forcing fans to pay for the entire NFL Sunday Ticket package, as opposed to offering an a la carte model that would allow fans to choose individual games or to follow a single team, is in direct violation of anti-trust laws.

In 1961, Congress passed the Sports Broadcast Act. It exempted all professional sports leagues from federal anti-trust laws in negotiating broadcast rights deals. The exemptions of the SBA do not apply to subscription-based cable systems or satellite TV providers. The plaintiffs allege that since the NFL Sunday Ticket package is a product sold to customers, it violates the anti-trust laws.

DirecTV charges nearly $300 for the full season of the NFL Sunday Ticket package for residential customers. The NFL Sunday Ticket Max package costs nearly $400. Commercial customers pay at least $590 for the package.

The plaintiffs in the case are seeking unspecified damages and an order that DirecTV and the NFL offer fans another way to view more than the three games aired on CBS and FOX every Sunday. While no specific dollar figure has been made public, at prices like the ones above, it is clear that a lot of money is at stake for the NFL and DirecTV.

Litan’s article has a full breakdown of the legal precedents both sides are expected to cite in making their arguments. He also makes it clear that the plaintiffs in this case are only DirecTV and the NFL. The lawsuit will have no effect on the broadcast TV deals that the NFL has with its major network partners.

Sports TV News

Jenna Wolfe Departs ‘First Things First’

“I’m heading off to some other things,” Wolfe said during her announcement. “I have had an absolute blast here, minus not always knowing what day it was.

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First Things First host Jenna Wolfe announced her departure at the end of this morning’s show. Wolfe has co-hosted the show with Nick Wright and Kevin Wildes since 2017.

“I’m heading off to some other things,” Wolfe said during her announcement. “I have had an absolute blast here, minus not always knowing what day it was.

“What’s important is I will be watching you guys (Wright and Wildes) and I will be rooting for you guys. And for you at home, thank you so much for waking up with us every day. It meant the world to me. I will miss you. I will mis this.”

Wolfe, 48, ended her goodbye by saying “It’s Jordan. It was always Jordan,” in regards to the show’s frequent conversation about whether Michael Jordan or LeBron James is the greatest basketball player of all time.

The former TODAY Show host did not mention what future projects may be in store.

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Sports TV News

CBS Will Work Around New Big Ten, Outgoing SEC Contracts

Dellenger reports the Big Ten’s deal will allow CBS to air their final season of the SEC during the first year of the contract, but said details weren’t provided.

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In a wide-ranging story Thursday, Sports Illustrated‘s Ross Dellenger revealed a college football media nugget that many had questioned.

CBS, who is expected to announce an upcoming deal with the Big Ten, is reportedly “double booked” for their 3:30 ET games in 2023.

The SEC’s deal with CBS, which ends after the 2023 season, is an exclusive game aired at 3:30 ET. The Big Ten’s deal with CBS, which begins for the 2023 season, is an exclusive game aired at 3:30 ET. Dellenger reports the Big Ten’s deal will allow CBS to air their final season of the SEC during the first year of the contract, but said details weren’t provided.

The situation isn’t ideal for the Big Ten or it’s new media partners CBS, NBC, or Fox. NBC is alleged to have secured a primetime Big Ten game, so any workaround involving CBS would likely see the Big Ten featuring two games on network TV simultaneously, with either an additional game at Noon ET competing with Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff or in primetime competing against NBC’s newly acquired rights.

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Sports TV News

Sports Media React to FOX’s Hologram Harry Caray

FOX’s use of a hologram Harry Caray for the 7th Inning Stretch of the Field of Dreams Game received mixed reviews.

Jordan Bondurant

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Harry Caray

The annual Field of Dreams game took center stage on Thursday night, and FOX incorporated legendary Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray into their coverage.

Earlier in the evening, news surfaced that FOX was going to use a hologram version of Caray during the 7th inning stretch, playing a recording of Caray singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

Darren Rovell had an inside scoop and tweeted that the display could be deemed offensive.

The segment happened, and the reaction by those in sports media, including those in Cincinnati and Chicago, was about what you’d expect.

There were a couple who didn’t take issue with the gesture.

Others couldn’t help but come with jokes.

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