February 28, 2013
Filed in 2009, the suit claimed that, among other things, ESPN had violated a most-favored-nation (MFN) provision of its 2005 licensing agreement with Dish that required ESPN to offer the satellite-TV operator the same licensing rates and program bundling opportunities offered to competitors. Dish claimed that ESPN had instead offered competitors better rates for the ESPN Classic channel, which rebroadcasts older sports events, and the Spanish-language ESPN Deportes channel and had allowed a cable operator to stream ESPN programming online without charging additional fees, an arrangement that Dish claimed it had not been offered. Dish later amended its complaint to include, among other things, an allegation that ESPN violated a separate provision of the parties’ contract by allowing Time Warner Cable to distribute the ESPN Network over the Internet via the popular “WatchESPN” app without charging a separate fee.
After a three-week jury trial in the Southern District of New York, Weil litigators prevailed on virtually every claim brought by Dish. The jury rejected Dish’s largest claims, including a claim for $130 million that ESPN owed Dish an MFN offer with respect to the ESPN Classic channel based on ESPN’s 2006 deal with Comcast; found in ESPN’s favor with respect to Internet streaming rights; and rejected Dish’s claims that ESPN violated the MFN by offering other distributors “a la carte” offerings.
As to one smaller claim, concerning the Spanish-language channel ESPN Deportes, the jury awarded Dish a mere $4.8 million, a fraction of the total amount sought. ESPN also previously won a related case for over a hundred million dollars, which Dish has now paid to ESPN and Disney .So, after bringing two cases against our clients, Dish has now lost $133 million, has been ordered to pay our clients our attorneys’ fees, and will now owe our clients additional attorneys’ fees in connection with the numerous additional claims Dish lost at this trial.
The Weil trial team consisted of partners Diane Sullivan and David Yohai; New York associates David Yolkut, John Gerba, Jennifer Oliver, Amanda Vrecenak, and Emily O’Hern (now of Houston). Ted Tsekerides and David Singh contributed significantly to the pretrial work.
This news appeared in the following outlets (may require registration/subscription):
- The Wall Street Journal: ESPN Ordered to Pay Dish (February 28, 2013)
- Thomson Reuters News & Insight: Dish awarded $4.9 mln in ESPN licensing dispute (February 28, 2013)
- The Am Law Litigation Daily: Lackluster Verdict Caps Clash of Legal Titans in Dish v. ESPN (February 28, 2013)
- Law360: Jury Awards Dish $4.9M In ESPN Licensing Row (February 28, 2013)
- The Hollywood Reporter: ESPN Ordered to Pay Dish Network $4.86 Million for Breach of Contract (February 28, 2013)
- Deadline New York: Dish Network (Sort Of) Wins Breach Of Contract Case Against ESPN (February 28, 2013)
- Bloomberg / Bloomberg Businessweek / The Washington Post: Dish Loses 3 of 4 Claims Against ESPN in Contract Dispute (March 1, 2013)
- Bloomberg: White & Case, Haynes & Boone, Weil: Business of Law (March 1, 2013)
- New York Law Journal: Jury Sides Mostly With ESPN in Licensing Dispute With Dish (March 4, 2013)
- Connecticut Law Tribune: ESPN Minimizes Losses In Dish Network Suit; Satellite TV provider claimed violations of contract provisions (March 15, 2013)
- Law360: How They Won It: Weil Curbs Dish Win In ESPN Licensing Row (March 25, 2013)