The Desk appreciates the support of readers who purchase products or services through links on our website. Learn more...

Ad group says Google can’t claim YouTube TV is cheaper than cable

The National Advertising Division sided with Charter Communications in a case over a YouTube TV ad that claimed its service saves consumers $600.

The National Advertising Division sided with Charter Communications in a case over a YouTube TV ad that claimed its service saves consumers $600.

The new YouTube TV multi-view feature allows streamers to watch multiple sports or news channels from a single screen. (Graphic by The Desk)
The new YouTube TV multi-view feature allows streamers to watch multiple sports or news channels from a single screen. (Graphic by The Desk)

Google says it will appeal a recent decision by the National Advertising Division (NAD) centered around a claim that its live television service, YouTube TV, can save consumers hundreds of dollars compared to cable TV.

The specific ad spot centers around a claim that YouTube TV can save the average consumer $600 per year compared to a comparable cable TV package with the same type of programming. YouTube TV offers local broadcast affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, as well as cable-only channels from the Walt Disney Company, Paramount Global, Comcast’s NBC Universal, AMC Networks, Warner Bros Discovery and Fox Corporation.

The claim is based on what Google calls a “comparable standalone cable” service, which it interprets as a similar cable TV package when bundled with two set-top boxes. Most cable and satellite companies charge equipment-related fees, including added fees for households with multiple set-top boxes.

Charter, which sells service under the Spectrum brand, objected to the ad, because it and other cable services also offer streaming-only packages that utilize the same hardware as YouTube TV — streaming sticks made by Roku and Amazon Fire TV, and boxes running Apple TV and Android TV (Google TV). Consumers can also sometimes get streaming TV services offered by cable companies through their phones, tablets and computers — all of which negate the need for a set-top box.

NAD also found Google’s claim that YouTube TV was being compared to “comparable” cable plans to be potentially confusing to the average consumer, since cable and satellite companies offer a myriad of packages that vary in price and programming. YouTube TV offers just one base package of more than 80 live channels for $73 a month; premium movie channels and some sports programming are available through YouTube TV for extra fees, some of which do not require a subscription to the base YouTube TV package.

For those reasons, NAD directed Google to stop claiming that YouTube TV saves the average consumer $600 over comparable cable TV services. Google says it disagrees with the decision, and will appeal the matter to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB). Both NAD and the NARB are under the umbrella of the Better Business Bureau.

Photo of author

About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).