DirecTV Stream Challenges Misleading Cable Claims

DirecTV Stream challenged claims made in commercials by Spectrum that the streaming service did not provide sports channels or access to the Super Bowl. The statements included that on DirecTV Stream;

  • Consumers cannot watch the “biggest game of the year” on DIRECTV Stream;
  • None of consumers’ “favorite sports channels” are available on DIRECTV Stream; and
  • DIRECTV Stream has “no local sports channels.”

The claims were misleading at best and outright wrong at the worse, which should not come as a big surprise to those who have paid attention to cable advertising or their bills over the years.

The biggest false claim, being that consumers would not be able to see the “biggest game of the year” AKA the Super Bowl is not even a stretch of the truth, it’s a lie. While Spectrum could say that it never said the Super Bowl was not on DirecTV Stream we all know what the biggest game of the year is. The company just lets viewers make the erroneous connection. Sort of like threatening someone by saying “I would hate to see you get hurt somehow if you didn’t pay me”.

The decision came down from the NAD (The National Advertising Division), an industry-recognized arbiter of truth in advertising.

NAD also recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim that none of consumers “favorite sports channels” are available on DIRECTV Stream. While the comparative availability of RSNs (regional sports networks) is a legitimate point of difference that Spectrum may highlight in its advertising, NAD noted that RSNs are available on DIRECTV Stream packages, except for the Entertainment Package. In the case of the commercial in question, Spectrum was comparing its service to the entry-level Entertainment package but extending the programming claim in a way that makes it sound like access to the channels is impossible vs not available on a specific tier.

Finally, NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim that DIRECTV Stream offers “no local sports channels.” NAD noted that the advertiser may also modify the advertising to clarify the channels or networks that are not available and that the claim is limited to the DIRECTV Entertainment package. Any such modification should effectively and accurately inform consumers of the channels or networks that are not available as well as the specific package being compared.

NAD noted that nothing in its decision precludes the advertiser from making truthful and non-misleading claims about Spectrum and DIRECTV Stream’s available channels, including claims regarding the availability of RSNs, and their customers’ respective access to sports programming.