NAD Recommends Comcast Discontinue Implied Claim About DirecTV’s Reliability, Availability of Free Shows; Both Parties to Appeal Certain NAD Findings

New York, NY – Oct. 2, 2018 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that Comcast Cable Communications, LLC, discontinue the implied claim, featured in a broadcast advertisement, that DirecTV is highly unreliable in bad weather and modify its advertising to avoid conveying the message that DirecTV offers no free shows or movies on the go.

Comcast is appealing, and DirecTV is cross-appealing, certain NAD’s findings.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The challenged advertisement states that Comcast’s Xfinity service, “delivers reliable TV service, rain or shine.  So you can watch without worrying.”  The advertisement then shows a picture of a DirecTV customer antenna with a rain cloud in the background.  As lightning strikes the antenna, causing it to shake, the voiceover states, “Whereas with DirecTV, but… you get the idea.”  A small super states, “Severe weather (heavy rain or snow) may interfere with a satellite signal causing the picture to freeze or pixelate.”

DirecTV argued that while the advertisement does not explicitly state that service interruption in severe weather is typical or a certainty and does not explicitly state that any such interruption will last for entire programs or an evening’s worth of television viewing, the advertisement strongly implies it.

Further, DirecTV contended that NAD in previous decisions has recommended modifications to similar weather-related reliability claims advertising claims made by Comcast.

Comcast argued that the message in the challenged advertisement is the same as that in a previously challenged “rain or shine” advertisement.  Comcast maintained that because NAD has already found the “rain or shine” message substantiated, NAD should administratively close DirecTV’s challenge.

NAD noted in its decision that the challenged commercial differed from any of the advertisements in the cases cited by the parties and determined that the depiction of a DirecTV receiver struck by lightning conveyed several messages that NAD has found to be unsupported, including messages about the probability and duration of outages.

Following its review of the evidence in the record, NAD concluded that the messages reasonably conveyed by the advertisement relating to the length and duration of weather-related outages and their frequency were not supported by the record.  NAD recommended that Comcast modify or discontinue the challenged commercial to avoid conveying the unsupported message that DirecTV is highly unreliable in bad weather.  NAD also recommended that the advertiser modify its advertising to avoid conveying the message that DirecTV offers no free shows or movies on the go.

NAD concluded that the advertiser had not claimed to offer 70,000 free shows and movies on the go with its introductory package and recommended no changes to that portion of the advertisement.  DirecTV said it would cross-appeal that finding.

Comcast, in its advertiser’s statement, said it will appeal NAD’s adverse findings.

“Comcast believes that the challenged commercial conveys the truthful message that DirecTV’s television service is comparatively unreliable in bad weather (due to limitations in satellite technology),” the company said.

Note: A recommendation by NAD to modify or discontinue a claim is not a finding of wrongdoing and an advertiser’s voluntary discontinuance or modification of claims should not be construed as an admission of impropriety. It is the policy of NAD not to endorse any company, product, or service. Decisions finding that advertising claims have been substantiated should not be construed as endorsements.