Sports fans who sued baseball and hockey leagues for limiting access to live games through exclusive contracts and regional blackouts will be able to make their case in a class action.
US District Court of New York Judge Shira Scheindlin yesterday granted the fans’ request for class-action certification, allowing them to continue their case collectively instead of as individuals. In addition to the National Hockey League (NHL) and the Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner’s office, defendants include Comcast, DirecTV, and several teams.
The complaint, filed in 2012, centers on contracts between the leagues and TV providers, which include territorial restrictions that reduce the choices fans have for watching their favorite teams. Fans within a home team’s geographic region must buy a traditional TV package with a regional sports network (RSN) to watch the team’s games, because leaguewide packages available through TV providers or over the Internet only show out-of-market games. Fans outside their favorite team’s territory can only watch the games by buying out-of-market packages, since the RSNs are restricted to local territories.
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