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Disney’s Attempt to Dismiss Antitrust Lawsuit Involving Hulu and ESPN Falls Short

Disney’s attempt to dismiss an antitrust class action lawsuit has been met with another setback, as reported by Deadline. The lawsuit, originally filed by YouTube TV subscribers in November 2022, alleges that Disney’s control over ESPN and Hulu has enabled the company to artificially inflate prices within the streaming market.

One of the key claims in the lawsuit is that Disney mandates streaming services, such as YouTube TV and Sling TV, to include ESPN in their basic packages. This requirement, according to the plaintiffs, ultimately leads to increased costs for consumers. Despite Disney’s efforts to have the case thrown out, California Judge Davila has limited the potential damages that the plaintiffs could seek. However, if successful, the lawsuit would still hold Disney accountable for any antitrust violations that may occur in the future.

In his ruling, Judge Davila emphasized the significance of the plaintiffs’ allegations, stating, “Because Plaintiffs have specifically alleged that the terms of the MFN provision permit Disney to set a price floor and raise its competitors’ ESPN prices (which translate to the subscription package prices) whenever it raises Hulu’s prices, the Court finds Plaintiffs’ allegations sufficient to plead Disney’s market power in a well-defined SLPTV market in the United States.”

As of now, The Walt Disney Company has refrained from providing any comments on the court’s decision. This legal battle highlights the ongoing scrutiny faced by major players in the streaming industry over issues related to market dominance and pricing strategies. The outcome of this lawsuit could have significant implications for how companies like Disney operate within the competitive landscape of the streaming market.