NAD Recommends DirecTV Discontinue ‘Worry-Free’ Reliability Claim; Advertiser to Appeal

York, NY – Feb. 22, 2018 – The National Advertising Division has recommended that DirecTV, LLC, discontinue certain advertising claims for the company’s satellite television service, including the claim that its service provides “worry-free” reliability.  DirecTV said it will appeal NAD’s adverse findings to the National Advertising Review Board.

The claims at issue, made in five print and internet advertisements, were challenged by Charter Communications, Inc.

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

Charter argued in its challenged that DirecTV’s claim that its service is “worry-free” is not puffery and is not true.  Further, Charter argued that DirecTV’s advertisements falsely imply that its signal does not go out in the rain.

Challenged claims included:

  • “99% worry-free signal reliability”
    • (Based on a Nationwide Study of Representative Cities.)
  • “Will my signal go out?  No!  DirecTV’s high-powered satellites deliver 99% worry-free signal reliability so you can access the best entertainment.*”
    • (* Based on a Nationwide Study of Representative Cities.)
  • “Let us help you clear up a few myths about DIRECTV … 2) ‘My signal will go out.’  Wrong. DIRECTV has 99% worry-free signal reliability so that you can access the best entertainment.”
  • “5 Myths Busted!  It’s time you knew the truth about AT&T! … 5) ‘My signal will go out.’  No problem, you’re covered.  With AT&T, you can get high-speed internet with over 99% reliability bundled with the 99% worry-free signal reliability of DIRECTV for entertainment you can count on.  Claim based on U-verse High Speed Internet service.  DIRECTV availability based on a nationwide study of representative cities.”

NAD considered also whether the advertising at issue implied that DirecTV service never goes out in the rain or that DirecTV customers do not worry about losing their television service when it rains.

DirecTV argued as an initial matter that the claim “99% signal reliability” had previously been reviewed by NAD, which had found the “99% signal reliability” claim to be supported.  Here, the advertiser said, its “99% worry-free signal reliability” claim was substantiated by the same signal strength data provided in the earlier case.

NAD concluded that the challenged “99% worry-free signal reliability” claim was a different claim that conveyed a similar but slightly different message.  In the context presented, the claim “worry-free” modified “99% signal reliability,” conveying to consumers the message that DirecTV is sufficiently reliable that they would not have to worry about losing service.

The advertiser did not introduce evidence that its reliability measures met consumer expectations for a “worry-free” level of service or that its customers do not worry about the reliability of their service.  The challenger, meanwhile, did provide survey evidence showing that nearly 20 percent of DirecTV’s customers identified loss of service as the aspect of satellite service that they liked the least, and, in response to a different question, 62 percent said they had “lost service due to rain” during the past year.

The survey, NAD noted, provided evidence that, for the respondents, DirecTV’s service may not be “worry-free.”  NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the claim.  NAD noted, however, that nothing in its decision precludes the advertiser from making a “99% signal reliability” claim.

NAD further recommended the advertiser discontinue the following claims:

  • “Will my signal ever go out? No!”
  • “My signal will go out.  Wrong”
  • It is a “myth” that DirecTV’s signal will go out.

DirecTV, in its advertiser’s statement, noted that the company will appeal NAD’s findings.

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.