Disney slapped with antitrust lawsuit over ‘inflated’ streaming prices

A group of YouTube TV subscribers has filed an antitrust lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company alleging they are forcing consumers to pay more than they should for streaming live TV online.

According to the deadline, the plaintiffs who come from four states say Disney forcing streamers like YouTube TV to include ESPN is inflating their prices more than necessary. A 82 page folder filing in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco alleges that Disney’s control over ESPN and Hulu allows the company to “inflate market prices by raising the prices of its own products” and also to “set a price floor.” YouTube TV is the largest live streaming pay TV service, with over 5 million subscribers.

The lawsuit continues “Together, these carriage agreement mandates – which now cover all of Disney’s major competitors in the SLPTV market – allow Disney to use ESPN and Hulu to price floor the SLPTV market and inflate prices across the market by raising the prices of its own products. And that’s exactly what Disney has done in the past three years since it took operational control of Hulu. Since Disney has acquired operational control of Hulu in May 2019, prices in the SLPTV marketplace, including for YouTube TV, doubled.This dramatic market-wide price inflation was driven by Disney’s own price hikes for Hulu + Live TV, and directly followed Disney’s competitor-by-competitor negotiation of new SLPTV distribution deals during this period.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and demands a jury trial rather than arbitration or settlement. Last year, a dispute between Disney and Google caused their programming to disappear from YouTube TV for two days before being restored. Following the loss of Disney programming, Google was expected to reduce the price of YouTube TV from $64.99 to $49.99 per month, but did not.

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