Cable Customers Who Don’t Like Sports File Class Action Lawsuit

Time Warner Cable in southern California has paid a lot of money for the rights to Dodgers baseball and Lakers basketball games in the last few years: $8 billion and $3 billion respectively. Exclusive sports channels that let cable subscribers watch more games are a great idea, unless you’re a customer who isn’t interested in watching sports, but who is awfully tired of watching your bill go up.

That’s what the customers behind the suit allege. Let us paraphrase: if TWC wants to pay a huge chunk of change for the rights to carry games, that’s awesome, but why are these pricey sports channels bundled in everyone’s cable packages?

The plaintiffs aren’t all Time Warner Cable customers, though. Since TWC plans to sell their new regional sports channels to other carriers, the four named plaintiffs are cable customers of Time Warner Cable, Charter, DirecTV, and Verizon. All claim that they don’t want to help pay for the broadcast rights to games they will never watch.

That $3 billion pays for the rights to the Lakers for 20 years, and the $8 billion covers the next 25 years of Dodgers games. In their complaint, the class members calculate that this cost will get passed on to customers, raising their bills $50-60 per year. Why do people who never watch baseball or basketball have to pay?

[A] very large segment of the consuming public is not sufficiently interested to pay $50-60 per year, but have no way of unsubscribing from either the Dodgers or Lakers telecast, which together add (or will if unrestrained) about $100 per year to the subscriber’s TWC bill.

This lawsuit isn’t just second-guessing Time Warner’s decision to acquire the rights: it questions the entire cable television business model.

Time Warner Cable Sued Over Lakers and Dodgers Channels [Hollywood Reporter] (via Fierce Cable – thanks, Wayne!)

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