A federal antitrust lawsuit has been filed against The Walt Disney Company for allegedly using its dual status as a streamer and content provider to violate antitrust protections to increase prices for Internet streaming service across the country.
The central conflict relates to Disney’s ownership of ESPN, which has long had the highest cable TV carrier rates (four times higher than its next competitor), and the fact that cable carrier rates ESPN were included in all basic cable packages was one reason. why people began to “cut the cord” on cable, as even the most basic cable packages were becoming too expensive for some consumers. So people turned to live streaming services like YouTube TV, but it turns out that Disney is now incorporating similar ESPN fare into live streaming services as well.
Recently, YouTube TV and Disney were at an impasse over the licensing agreement for ESPN and other channels, and the companies eventually reached an agreement late last year, and part of the agreement involved YouTube TV agreeing to the same channel settings. transportation rates. that Disney has with all other live streamers carrying ESPN, that it insists that A. ESPN be included in all basic plans, and that B. ESPN’s live stream carrier fee price would not be less than the service Lowest transmission on the market.
The problem there, of course, was that Disney owned a streaming service, and so when it raised prices for Hulu + Live TV, all other live streaming services had to raise their prices as well. The price of the basic YouTube TV plan has almost doubled, from $35 to the current $65. During its back and forth with Disney over licensing fees, YouTube TV claimed it could charge $15 less for a basic plan that didn’t include ESPN. However, that’s obviously no longer possible now that their new deal agrees to always include ESPN in their most basic plan. Therefore, the lawsuit alleges that Disney using its different companies to increase the price of live streaming is generally equivalent to price fixing and violates federal antitrust laws.
The four named plaintiffs are Heather Biddle of California, Jeffrey Kaplan of Arizona, Zachary Roberts of Indiana, and Joel Wilson of Kentucky.
Font: the hollywood reporter