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The Philadelphia Inquirer: MLB agrees to concessions settling TV broadcasts antitrust suit

Jan 20, 2016

On the top of page one of the business section in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, staff writer Bob Fernandez reports on MLB agrees to concessions settling TV broadcasts antitrust suit. He has covered this story in Philadelphia since 2013.

“On the day the case was scheduled for trial in a federal courtroom in New York, Major League Baseball settled a class-action antitrust lawsuit claiming that baseball’s longtime practice of carving the nation into media markets for TV broadcasts was anti-competitive and hurt fans,” writes Fernandez.

Some believed that MLB’s media market structure could have been dismantled if the league lost at trial – a potentially painful economic blow for baseball and TV-rights holders.

In 2015, the National Hockey League settled a parallel lawsuit making the same claims. (Ned) Diver also was the lead attorney in the NHL case. Consumers could save more than $100 million over time in lower prices for games based on the hockey and baseball settlements, according to estimates.

The legal actions contended that as sports leagues have divided the nation into media markets, fans have been left out in the cold by paying high cable bills to watch local games and having to buy expensive all-inclusive league packages to follow teams outside their home markets.

A contention in the Philadelphia area is that Phillies fans are virtually forced to subscribe to Comcast or Verizon’s FiOS service to watch the Phillies because the games are not available on Dish or DirecTV.