This story slipped under the radar last week, but is definitely a huge stroy in the world of sports, media and politics. According to the Hollywood Reporter, several fans have filed a class-action suit against MLB and some of its broadcasting partners, including Comcast and DirecTV. The suit encompasses several different claims, including how much out-of-market fans should have to pay to see their favorite teams and how baseball’s convoluted blackout rules keep some fans from seeing their favorite teams even with packages that show all games. According to the Hollywood Reporter:
The latest challenge comes from a class of plaintiffs led by Fernanda Garber, who lives in Oakland and pays for Comcast service; Marc Lerner, who lives in Mississippi, and would prefer not to pay high out-of-market package fees to watch his favored New York Yankees; Derek Rasmussen, who lives in Indiana and has to pay a lot to see his favored Milwaukee Brewers; and Robert Silver, who lives in Philadelphia and canceled DirecTV because of high prices allegedly attributable to the defendants’ actions.
These plaintiffs assert that MLB’s 30 teams are an “illegal cartel” that make “agreements to eliminate competition in the distribution of games over the Internet and television.”
Baseball has traditionally relied on its antitrust exemption when push comes to shove, but it’s uncertain if MLB will do so in this case, or — given the Supreme Court’s recent decision in American Needle that the NFL could not collude to license its properties — whether the courts would overturn that antitrust exemption.
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