There's an interesting article on fangraphs today about the MLB Blackout Policy being challenged. The article doesn't mention the NHL, but it applies there as well. It's a set of disgruntled subscribers to MLB/NHL online services who claim the leagues are violating antitrust laws.
I've been picking thru the court finding on why the case will go forward (http://l.yimg.com/j/...ipt/Opinion.pdf). It's a long complex document, and momma didn't raise no big city lawyer, but I found it interesting. Here are the 4 claims that the Leagues are violating anti trust...
- for Television plaintiffs, violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act based on agreements to “forbid the carrying or online streaming of any [NHL/MLB] game in any geographic market except those licensed by the [NHL/MLB] team in that geographic market”
- for Television plaintiffs, violation of Section 1 based on agreements “that [NHL/MLB] will be the exclusive provider of live ‘out-of-market’ games distributed through television providers”
- for Internet plaintiffs, violation of Section 1 based on agreements “that [NHL/MLB] will be the exclusive provider of live ‘out-of-market’ games over the Internet”
- for all plaintiffs, violation of Section 2 for conspiracy to monopolize the “market for video presentations of major league [hockey/baseball] games and Internet streaming of the same"
- plaintiffs have not alleged harm to competition.
- plaintiffs lack standing on the following grounds:
(1) plaintiffs are “indirect purchasers;”
(2) plaintiffs’ injuries are “too attenuated and remote from the alleged horizontal conspiracy;”
(3) the Garber plaintiffs lack standing to assert claims concerning the MLB Extra Innings television package, because none of them purchased that product;
(4) five of six plaintiffs are “former subscribers who assert no intention to subscribe to any of the challenged television or Internet services in the future,” and therefore lack standing to request injunctive relief.
- plaintiffs allege “no cognizable conduct by Comcast, DirecTV or any of the RSN Defendants” because “[t]he only plausible allegations as to these Defendants relate to their vertical distribution, which is presumptively legal.”
- the alleged horizontal activities of the NHL and MLB defendants are “lawful on their face” as the “very core of what professional sports league ventures do – sell their jointly created product.”
- plaintiffs’ “proposed relevant market is insufficient as a matter of law” because plaintiffs fail to “allege facts regarding reasonable"
- plaintiffs’ claims must be dismissed for:
(1) failure to allege any anticompetitive effect;
(2) failure to allege any plausible “conspiracy” among the Leagues, the clubs and the RSNs and distributors; and
(3) failure to allege any of the necessary elements of a monopolization claim
Is anyone else on SoSH following this? Did I miss a thread somewhere? I've already picked a horse in this race, but I'm interested to hear opinions on why the blackout restrictions are a good idea. I'm interested as to why I'm considered an "indirect purchaser" means, since I've bought MLB.tv before and was definitely charged by MLB Baseball.
Mods: feel free to move where you think is reasonable.
TIL: Many many words used by lawyers are flagged by chrome's spell checker.