By Cheryl Lee
Consumers who were frustrated by the high cost of renting set-top boxes filed class-action lawsuits against several cable TV operators. The antitrust class action filed against Cox Communications was the first to go to trial. The complaint, in that case, alleged that Cox violated the Sherman Act by illegally tying its premium cable service to its set-top box rentals. It also alleged that Cox created barriers preventing other companies from offering third-party set-top boxes. The jury returned a $6.3M verdict against Cox Communications. Continue reading
By Tyler Quillin
This article began with an interest in the disparity between last year’s SEC Network and Pac12 Network revenue yields. However, research led to an even more disruptive evolution in cable television delivery – the end of cable bundling. As the internet continues to reshape the way we consume content, cable-bundling continues to decline.
Most of us still access cable television via the traditional bundling model, which functions through consumer subscriptions for desired channel lineups. Each of the channels provided by the service provider costs a fee to provide. These are called affiliate fees, which are licensing fees agreed upon between each service provider and the respective network. These affiliate fees are a growing influence on the pricing of service provider lineups in an evolving market where the internet provides the direct access to clients these networks never had before. Before the internet, networks needed cable servicer providers to disseminate their products to consumers, but now consumers can go straight to the source for targeted consumption of their desired programming via streaming subscription models. For example, remember the big splashes Hulu and Netflix made in the mid-2000s by providing streamed content? The Networks began offering content for free via Hulu while cable service providers were paying hefty affiliate fees. The cable service providers were unhappy, and Hulu became a subscription-based service. This marked the beginning of the end. Continue reading
By Talia Loucks
Sports fans that live far from their favorite teams have a difficult time watching games. I discovered this in the 90s when I was a Seahawks fan living in Colorado. The agreements between regional sports networks, the teams, and television service providers make it extremely difficult for out-of-market fans to access games. Baseball and hockey fans, however, are currently trying to fix this. Out-of-market fans won a small victory this past May when Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted a motion for a class action certification.
The cases, Garber v. MLB and Laumann v. NHL, are antitrust challenges to sports broadcasting. Plaintiffs in both cases are challenging the multilateral agreements between the leagues (MLB and NHL), regional sports networks (“RSNs”), and multichannel video programming distributors (“MVPDs”)—DirecTV and Comcast—“that limit options, and increase prices, for baseball and hockey fans that want to watch teams from outside the home television territory (“HTT”) where the fans live.” Fans, who live in cities far from the teams they love, must purchase out-of-market packages that broadcast all games outside of the market. Furthermore, because of the exclusivity of networks such as the Yankees Entertainment Sports Network (“YES”) and other similar team-specific networks, often fans that have purchased out-of-market packages still cannot watch their favorite teams. Continue reading