DirecTV’s ‘Worry-Free’ Signal Reliability

March 12th, 2018

The National Advertising Division (NAD) has recommended that DirecTV cease advertising its signal reliability as “worry free.” The decision comes after a competitor, Charter Communications, dug up evidence that DirecTV’s customers do in fact fret about losing their television service during one particular phenomenon: Rain.

Among the claims in print and on the internet (memes!) that Charter challenged with NAD were:

  • “99% worry-free signal reliability”
  • “Will my signal go out? No! DirecTV’s high-powered satellites deliver 99% worry-free signal reliability so you can access the best entertainment.”
  • “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 …”

NAD said these and similar claims convey the message that DirecTV’s signal is so reliable that its customers do not worry about losing television service in the rain — a touchy topic for DirecTV.

Yet DirecTV had not conducted any customer surveys specifically related to its worry-free claims. It had not asked customers if they grow anxious about losing their satellite signal when the skies begin to darken. Said NAD:

The challenger (i.e., Charter), 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.

This was enough to convince NAD to recommend that DirecTV remove the phrase “worry free” when describing its signal strength or reliability in marketing materials.

DirecTV argued that the advertising at issue had already been hashed out when NAD, in a previous decision, found that it could support claims to offer “99% signal reliability.” It said that it would appeal this most recent decision to the National Advertising Review Board.

Find more of our coverage on DirecTV here.

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The National Advertising Division, or NAD, is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. NAD asks advertisers to substantiate or change their claims in advertisements. As part of a voluntary system of self-regulation, however, its recommendations can be ignored by the offending advertisers. In those instances, NAD refers the offender to federal consumer protection agencies.

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