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ESPN proposed dropping Sunday price to $70 and offering single-team packages; NFL declined

As the trial of the potentially monumental class action regarding Sunday Ticket continues, it’s hard to find much coverage of it. (And the league is surely delighted about that.) Tonight, we found a couple of items containing interesting information.

First, recently reported on the testimony of NFL chief media and business officer Brian Rolapp. Said Rolapp of the NFL’s process for distributing games, “Our model is the best in the world.”

He also pointed out (as the NFL always does) that all games are televised on free, over-the-air channels in the markets of the local teams.

“We try to think about what the fan wants and get as much distribution as possible,” Rolapp added.

Some of the evidence contradicts Rolapp’s claim. In his weekly newsletter regarding all things relevant to the business of football, Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal mentions a few nuggets from Edvard Pettersson of

First, Apple’s bid for Sunday Ticket suggested it could add 15 to 20 million new customers. Patriots owner Robert Kraft reportedly said in deposition testimony that was played for the jury last Friday: “We’re not looking to get lots of people. We want to keep it as a premium offering.”

ESPN proposed dropping the price to $70 for the full season and to sell single team packages. An email from Rolapp shown in court showed that the league didn’t like that.

So much for “what the fan wants and get[ting] as much distribution as possible.”

As previously mentioned, Sunday Ticket has seemed to be an antitrust violation since its inception. We’re forced to buy the entire slate for the entire year, even though it’s heavily marketed as a way for fans of one specific out-of-market team to see those games.

The plaintiffs argue that the league specifically kept Sunday Ticket expensive to ensure that plenty of fans would just watch whatever games were on their local broadcast networks.

The NFL’s silver bullet, which has yet to kill the multi-billion-dollar werewolf that has been stalking the league for nine years, is that Sunday Ticket falls within the league’s broadcast antitrust exemption. If so, it can do whatever it wants when it comes to rigging the price of Sunday Ticket, ensuring that it will be too expensive to deliver “what the fan wants and get as much distribution as possible.”