'Sunday Ticket' lawsuit could lead to the Detroit Lions cutting a massive check

The NFL took a big loss in the court room this week, and the Lions would share the big cost with the other 31 teams.

The NFL took a big loss in court this week. A jury found the league broke antitrust laws by selling their "Sunday Ticket" package only on DirecTV and at an inflated price to preserve local ratings for games on FOX and CBS.

The total verdict puts the NFL on the hook for $4.8 billion in damages, split between the residential class ($4.696 billion) and commercial class ($97 million; bars, restaurants, etc.). Under anti-trust law that $4.696 billion figure gets tripled to $14.088 billion.

The NFL is of course fighting the verdict. A post-trial motions hearing conducted by Judge Philip Gutierrez is scheduled for July 31. The damages could be reduced, or the entire verdict could be thrown out. Overall, the legal process is not over as the NFL fights a substantial (to put it mildly) payout.

One way for the NFL combat that verdict, if it stands fully as it is right now, is to raise the price of "Sunday Ticket", which is now available on YouTube TV.

'Sunday Ticket' verdict result could lead to Lions having to cut a big check

When it comes to television deals, in terms of resulting incoming revenue, the NFL operates in equal shares of one business unit. So any "Sunday Ticket" verdict bill, if there is one and whatever it winds up being, will also be divided among the 32 teams.

As we know, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reinforced, no NFL team owner will go straight into poverty if they have to pay their portion of the full, sizeable "Sunday Ticket" verdict.

But it would still be a lot of money. Florio did the math, and using the residential class portion of the verdict ($14.088 billion, after being tripled) it works out to $440.25 million per team. As a point of comparison, this year's salary cap is $255.4 million per team.

It feels unlikely the full "Sunday Ticket" damages verdict against the NFL will stand, and based on his previous comments Gutierrez may throw the whole thing out on July 31. But if it happens to stand as it currently is, we know what it will cost the Lions and every other team.


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