Comcast Sues DirecTV Over NFL Sunday Ticket Ads

Says DirecTV's 'free' offer is 'an outright lie'

Comcast is calling out rival DirecTV over an ad campaign that it claims is misleading customers and making unfair statements about competitors.

DirecTV’s new TV, Internet, and radio ads offer subscribers the NFL Sunday Ticket package (typically $66.99 per month) at “no extra charge.” But DirecTV only gives the package away when customers sign up for a two-year contract, which means that it’s not actually free, according to Comcast.

In a lawsuit filed in a Chicago federal court, Comcast called DirecTV’s “no extra charge” claim “an outright lie” because “the offer requires a two-year contract with hefty termination fees for early cancellation, with the NFL Sunday Ticket service automatically renewing in the second year at full price.”

Comcast also accuses DirecTV of disparaging other cable providers, like Comcast. “One DirecTV advertisement contains the literally false claim that cable subscribers only can view a single NFL game each Sunday during the NFL season,” the lawsuit states. In Philadelphia, Comcast offers all Eagles games, but the DirecTV ads make it seem as if only Sunday Ticket subscribers can view them, said Comcast.

The DirecTV ads do contain fine print explaining that the NFL promotion is only available with a two-year package commitment. But according to Comcast, the ads go “to great lengths” to conceal the truth. “DirecTV’s television and Internet ads employ a carefully crafted scheme of purported disclaimers that were intentionally designed to deceive as many consumers as possible,” the lawsuit states, while “many of its ads, especially those aired on the radio, simply omit this critical fact altogether.”

DirecTV denied Comcast’s claims, telling Reuters, “We believe Comcast's complaint is completely without merit and plan to defend ourselves vigorously.”