SBD/August 4, 2011/Media

Comcast Sues DirecTV Over False Advertising In Sunday Ticket Campaign

Comcast filed a lawsuit against DirecTV yesterday, alleging that the satellite TV company "falsely advertises that its consumers are going to see football 'free' this season," according to Eriq Gardner of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. In the suit filed in Illinois federal court, Comcast writes, "In the wake of the recent resolution of the NFL's labor dispute, defendant DirecTV has launched a multi-million-dollar multimedia advertising campaign, baiting consumers with the claim that DirecTV's popular NFL Sunday Ticket service -- which ordinarily costs hundreds of dollars per year -- is currently available for 'free' or at 'no extra charge.' Unfortunately for consumers the claim of 'free' is an outright lie." Comcast notes DirecTV's Sunday Ticket offer "requires a two-year contract with hefty termination fees for early cancellation," with the service automatically renewing for the second season "at full price." The MSO also charges DirecTV with "falsely disparaging cable television service generally -- and, by clear implication, Comcast's cable services specifically." Comcast in the suit points out that DirecTV says "in its advertisements that cable subscribers can only see a single NFL game each Sunday during the NFL season." Comcast is "seeking DirecTV's profits resulting from allegedly misleading misrepresentations, exemplary and punitive damages, legal costs, and an injunction" (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 8/4).

NFL, TIME WARNER TALKING: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that the league and Time Warner Cable, the second-largest cable distributor in the country, are “negotiating an affiliate agreement.” Goodell said, “We’re trying to get that done. We believe it’s good for the fans, we think it’s good for Time Warner and we believe the market’s been set.” ADWEEK.com’s Anthony Crupi reports the news comes “just days after NFL Network hashed out a deal with Charter Communications, the nation’s fourth-largest cable operator and sixth-largest carrier.” The developments come after Goodell last September during an NFL.com chat “took Time Warner to task, saying that the MSO remained ‘unwilling to reach an agreement to carry the NFL Network on terms that are fair and reasonable and consistent with other distributors.’” Crupi notes a solution in the carriage standoff “may lie in bilateral compromise.” TWC could offer “to carry NFL Network on a more widely distributed basic digital package, in exchange for a reduced rate -- perhaps a little as 50 cents per sub” (ADWEEK.com, 8/4). Goodell said, “We believe in the NFL Network. We think the fans want to see the NFL Network. The reaction we get from our fans is extraordinarily positive and we believe it’s good for their customers. So when we’re negotiating with our distributors, we believe it should be in every home. And we’re going to continue to push that because it’s good for football and it’s good for the people who love football” (NFL.com, 8/3).
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Media, Comcast Corp., DirecTV, NFL

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