Alphabet’s Google has been hit with a lawsuit in US federal court seeking information about its multibillion-dollar deal with the National Football League to exclusively hold the broadcast rights for the “Sunday Ticket” package of televised professional games.
Lawyers representing classes of residential and commercial business subscribers of Sunday Ticket filed the lawsuit on Monday in San Jose, California, federal court.
They’ve asked a judge to compel Google to respond to a demand for information in the plaintiffs’ case against the NFL and DirecTV, which Google will succeed as the host of Sunday Ticket.
The plaintiffs are seeking $6 billion in damages for their claims that the NFL, its teams and DirecTV conspired to curb availability of televised games, which artificially boosted the price of Sunday Ticket. The programming provides out-of-market Sunday afternoon games that are not otherwise available for free on certain national broadcasters.
Google isn’t a party in the long-running antitrust litigation, set for trial early next year.
But the plaintiffs’ lawyers contend in their subpoena case that the technology giant is unfairly holding back on information that could be used to prosecute the claims against the NFL and DirecTV.
Representatives from Google and the NFL on Tuesday declined to comment.
The NFL has denied the plaintiffs’ price-fixing claims, saying the league’s exclusive distribution agreement was “presumptively legal.”
The plaintiffs are seeking information from Google including retail pricing, rights fees and subscriber numbers. The attorneys said they want to learn more about any “influence” the NFL has placed on Google.
Google’s attorneys have said producing the requested information would be “unduly burdensome.”
Attorneys for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
NFL Sunday Ticket will be available through a subscription on Google’s YouTube platform beginning with the upcoming NFL season until the year 2030.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers said in their filing that Google after “multiple discussions” only agreed to provide three documents — described as “summary presentations” — about its Sunday Ticket deal with the NFL.
The attorneys for the plaintiffs said that information “does not even scratch the surface” of relevant information in the litigation.
“Evidence that the NFL imposed restrictions on Google will support plaintiffs’ claims that the NFL imposed these same restraints on DirecTV during the class period, to the detriment of consumers,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys said in their subpoena lawsuit.
The case is Ninth Inning Inc dba The Mucky Duck v. Google LLC, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, 5:23-mc-80213-NC.
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