I will be following this story closely, this sounds like a potential mess.
Rick Westhead, TSN.CA -- The lawsuit also attacks the NHL's tactic of charging customers $179.80 for its full-season offering of games available on cable and satellite providers. Again, both of those packages, known as NHL Center Ice, black out in-market games.
The NHL subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the case and a judge ruled this week against that motion. The ruling was unsealed on Friday.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs will spend the next few months asking for the case to be considered as a class action. It's unclear how many people might be involved in the case.
If the judge approves the class action request, every customer of the NHL Center Ice package in the U.S. would be included as a plaintiff. The case does not involve or affect broadcast rights within Canada.
"Disappointed, but still very preliminary," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told TSN on Friday afternoon. "We remain confident of ultimately prevailing on the merits."
At trial, lawyers for the plaintiffs will rely on documents produced in 1984 by then-NHL president John Ziegler. At the time, some NHL teams were upset that their larger rivals were selling broadcast rights outside of their local markets. Ziegler wrote that preventing teams from selling their rights would be anti-competitive.
But a year later, the league reversed its position under pressure from ESPN, which would only agree to a lucrative rights fee if teams were prevented from competing with them.