YouTube TV users sue Disney over streaming TV market pricing

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  • An antitrust lawsuit accused Disney of imposing ‘upward pricing pressure’ on the market
  • YouTube TV and Disney fell out last year over a content deal

(Reuters) – YouTube TV subscribers in California, Arizona and elsewhere have sued The Walt Disney Co in California federal court, alleging the media company’s business deals with competitors artificially increased the amount consumers pay in the market for live television broadcast over the Internet. .

The proposed class action lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in San Francisco said Disney’s control of both Hula, the nation’s second-largest live streaming pay-TV provider, and sports network ESPN allowed the company “to set a floor price” for the market and to “inflate market prices by raising the prices of its own products”.

Disney requires streaming providers such as YouTube TV to include ESPN as part of a basic package, and the plaintiffs claimed they “paid prices for their YouTube TV subscriptions that were higher than they expected. would have been but for Disney’s anti-competitive conduct”.

A Disney spokesperson on Monday did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the lawsuit.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs at Bathe Dunne declined to comment.

The named plaintiffs also include YouTube TV subscribers in Indiana and Kentucky. The complaint says about 5 million YouTube TV subscribers pay “anticompetitively inflated” subscription fees.

The complaint did not specify the amount of damages.

Last year, Disney and Alphabet Inc’s Google-owned YouTube TV squabbled over a content deal, according to the lawsuit. At the time, YouTube said it would provide a plan without ESPN and other Disney-owned channels for $15 less than it charged.

YouTube TV restored access to ESPN and other Disney networks after the two sides reached an agreement.

The complaint stated that “many consumers would prefer a basic package that does not include ESPN and costs significantly less.”

A Google spokesperson did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys asked the California court to issue an injunction allowing them to deny “basic packages with ESPN and Disney-controlled channels.”

The lawsuit claimed that the price of basic packages from YouTube TV, Hula + Live TV and other providers are now “nearly at par with basic cable packages from traditional satellite and cable TV providers”.

The case is Biddle v. The Walt Disney Co, US District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 22-cv-07317.

For Complainants: Yavar Bathe and Brian Dunne of Bathe Dunne

For the defendant: not yet appeared

Read more:

Disney takes over Hula to challenge Netflix, Amazon

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