Ad Group Rules Against Claim that YouTube TV Service is “$600 Less Than Cable”

(Image credit: Google)

NEW YORK—A panel of the National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate advertising body of BBB National Programs for industry self regulation, recommended that Google, LLC discontinue the claim that its YouTube TV service is “$600 less than cable.”

The advertising had been challenged by Charter Communications, Inc. in a National Advertising Division’s (NAD) Fast-Track SWIFT challenge. Following NAD’s decision (Case No. 7233), Google appealed NAD’s recommendation to discontinue the challenged advertising claim.

In explaining its ruling the NARB noted that the challenged “$600 less than cable” claim, was accompanied by a disclosure identifying “comparable standalone cable” as the basis of comparison. The price calculation underlying the challenged claim included the cost of two set-top boxes per household for “standalone cable” services.

The NARB panel determined that the commercial disclosures were not clear and conspicuous.

Further, in agreement with NAD, the NARB panel concluded that at least one reasonable interpretation of the challenged claim is that YouTube TV is $600 less than any comparable service available from companies traditionally associated with cable services. 

The NARB ruled that this comparison does not align with the challenged claim because many households can subscribe to basic Spectrum service without renting cable boxes. Also, in certain markets, cable providers offer regional sports networks (RSNs) but YouTube does not, therefore Google did not have a valid reason for adding the cost of Spectrum’s Sports View option to the price comparison.

For these reasons, the NARB panel adopted NAD’s recommendation that Google discontinue the claim that its YouTube TV service is “$600 less than cable.”

Google stated that it “disagrees with NARB’s determination that people watching the challenged commercials will somehow understand ‘cable’ to mean something other than traditional cable television,” however it “intends to modify or cease the disputed advertising claim.” Google further stated that, at a later date it “may reconsider the claim based on updated information.”

The National Advertising Review Board (NARB) is the appellate body for BBB National Programs’ advertising self-regulatory programs. NARB’s panel members include 85 volunteer professionals from the national advertising industry, agencies, and public members, such as academics and former members of the public sector.

George Winslow

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.