National Advertising Division Recommends Charter Communications Discontinue or Modify Claims Comparing Its Spectrum Internet Speeds to AT&T

For Immediate Release
Contact: Abby Hills, Director of Communications, BBB National Programs

703.247.9330 / press@bbbnp.org

New York, NY – September 13, 2022 – The National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that Charter Communications, Inc. discontinue or modify certain comparative speed claims for its Spectrum Internet service, which appeared in its “Monsters Gaming” television commercial.

The claims at issue were challenged by internet service provider competitor AT&T Services, Inc. They included:

Express Claim

  • “Spectrum download speeds are 20X faster than AT&T.”

 

Implied Claims

  • AT&T does not offer any internet speeds comparable to Spectrum’s Gig Internet.
  • AT&T does not offer internet speeds faster than 50 Mbps.
  • AT&T Internet is too slow for downloading for the reasonable consumer.

 

20X Faster Claim

NAD determined that the disclosures in the “Monsters” ad do not clearly identify the basis of comparison being made in the “20X faster” claim as being limited to a comparison of Charter’s Spectrum Internet Gig (1000 Mbps) against AT&T Internet 50 (50 Mbps). Therefore, NAD found that the “20X faster” claim conveys a message about AT&T’s line of offerings. 

Further, NAD concluded that the “20X faster” claim in the context of the “Monsters” ad is not supported across the line of service tiers offered by AT&T and Charter because not all Spectrum Internet service tier download speeds are 20X faster than the download speeds provided by all AT&T Internet service tiers. 

Therefore, NAD recommended that Charter:

  • Discontinue the “20X faster” claim, or 
  • Modify it to clearly and conspicuously disclose the specific service tiers on which the speed comparison is based as part of the claim itself or through a disclosure of similar font size and in immediate proximity to the “20X faster” claim, and 
  • Noted that if the “20X faster” claim is audible, the basis of comparison must also be clearly and conspicuously audible to ensure that consumers who only hear the “20X faster” claim are informed of the specific service tiers upon which the download speed comparison is based.

 

Implied Claims

NAD noted that in the internet service provider market, consumers may reasonably expect a download superiority claim to be based on a comparison of competing service tiers with the most equivalent download speeds. However, in the “Monsters” ad, Charter’s “20X faster” claim is based on a comparison to AT&T Internet 50, which is not AT&T’s service tier offering download speeds most equivalent to Spectrum Internet Gig nor is it AT&T’s service tier offering the fastest download speeds. Rather, AT&T Internet 1000, which provides download speeds of 940 Mbps and which Charter acknowledged is available to consumers in the AT&T/Charter competitive footprint, is more equivalent to Spectrum Internet Gig.

Because the “Monsters” ad does not clearly indicate the specific service tier speeds being compared, NAD determined that the “20X faster” claim reasonably conveys the misleading message that the claim is based on a comparison of the service tiers of each party that provide the most equivalent download speeds and that AT&T does not offer any internet speeds comparable to Spectrum’s Gig Internet or faster than 50 Mbps.

NAD therefore recommended that Charter modify the “20X faster” claim and the “Monsters” ad to communicate clearly and conspicuously the exact products being compared, any material differences between the compared products, and to avoid implying that the competitor does not have a more similar product.

Finally, NAD found that consumers will reasonably take away a message that AT&T Internet is too slow for gaming, but not the broader message that AT&T Internet is too slow for general activities requiring download speeds. 

In its advertiser statement, Charter stated that it “will comply with NAD’s decision with respect to the challenged claims in the commercial.” Further, the advertiser noted that it is no longer running the commercial featuring this claim and stated that although it “disagrees with NAD’s recommendations in this case, it remains a strong supporter of self-regulation and will comply with these recommendations if it makes the 20X Faster Claim again.”

All BBB National Programs case decision summaries can be found in the case decision library. For the full text of NAD, NARB, and CARU decisions, subscribe to the online archive.

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