Google Appeals National Advertising Division Recommendation to Discontinue Claim that YouTube TV Service is “$600 Less Than Cable”

New York, NY – August 22, 2023 – In a Fast-Track SWIFT challenge brought by Charter Communications, Inc., the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs recommended that Google, LLC discontinue the claim that its YouTube TV service is “$600 less than cable.” 

Fast-Track SWIFT is an expedited process designed for single-issue advertising cases brought to NAD. At issue for NAD was whether the comparative pricing claim in two of Google’s commercials for YouTube TV service was supported. 

The challenged “$600 less than cable” claim” is followed by a disclosure identifying “comparable standalone cable” as the basis of comparison.

The price calculation underlying the challenged claim includes the cost of two set-top boxes per household for “standalone cable” services. NAD found, however, that this comparison is not a good fit for the challenged claim comparing YouTube TV’s pricing to “cable” generally since cable providers like Charter offer streaming options that may not require a set-top box. 

In the context of the “cable” comparison, NAD found the claim reasonably conveys the cost of YouTube TV is compared to all cable services.

Further, NAD noted that in this dynamic and competitive market it may be difficult to identify “comparable” offerings. However, in several markets cable providers offer regional sports networks but YouTube TV does not. NAD determined that it is reasonable for consumers to believe that YouTube TV offers at least the same channels as cable for viewing basketball. 

For these reasons, NAD recommended that Google discontinue the claim that its YouTube TV services are “$600 less than cable.” NAD noted, however, that nothing in its decision precludes Google from making other truthful and non-misleading claims comparing the price of YouTube TV with the pricing of services offered by any cable provider.

In its advertiser statement, Google stated that it “unequivocally disagrees” with NAD’s decision and its “interpretation of ‘comparable’ offerings” and that it will appeal because it “believes that consumers broadly understand the difference between traditional cable and streaming and that they do not interpret ‘cable’ or ‘standalone cable’ offered via a ‘cable box’ as encompassing streaming services, regardless of who provides them.”  

Appeals of NAD decisions are made to the BBB National Programs’ National Advertising Review Board (NARB), the appellate-level truth-in-advertising body of BBB National Programs. 

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. Per NAD Procedures, this release shall not be used for advertising or promotional purposes.

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