Cable Operators

Comcast Drops Suit Against DirecTV Over NFL Sunday Ticket Ads

8/20/2011 7:11 AM Eastern

Comcast on Friday withdrew its lawsuit against DirecTV alleging the satellite operator's ads misleadingly called its NFL Sunday Ticket package was "free" after DirecTV made a "small graphic enhancement" to one of the ads.

"DirecTV has discontinued or modified its false and misleading advertising to consumers regarding its NFL Sunday Ticket package as a result of our legal action," Comcast chief blogger J T. Ramsay said in a statement posted on the operator's website. "As such, we have elected to withdraw our complaint on this matter."

But DirecTV said Comcast's statement misrepresented the facts in the case. The satellite operator noted that a federal judge last week denied Comcast's request for a temporary restraining order seeking to block the ads.

"Comcast can spin it any way they want but they lost the TRO last week and they withdrew their case yesterday because they knew they were going to lose," DirecTV said in a statement. "Our NFL Sunday Ticket campaign will continue to air as planned. We won, plain and simple."

DirecTV said no ads were pulled. Asked what was modified in the ads, a DirecTV spokesman said only a "small graphic enhancement" was made to one ad in the campaign a week ago. In the spot with the Philadelphia fan, DirecTV added an on-screen label that said "10 AM Los Angeles," whereas in the original version there was nothing on the screen.

Comcast, which filed the suit Aug. 4 in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, had been seeking to enjoin DirecTV's campaign's messages about Sunday Ticket being available at "no extra charge" or "free," as well as collect punitive damages and recover legal costs.

Comcast had objected to DirecTV's claim that the NFL Sunday Ticket service -- which normally carries a full regular-season retail price of $334.95 -- was currently available for "free" or at "no extra charge."

"Unfortunately for consumers the claim of 'free' is an outright lie," the MSO had said in its lawsuit.

DirecTV called Comcast's false-advertising action "deplorable" and said new customers who sign up for its service can indeed get NFL Sunday Ticket at no extra charge for one year with no requirement to subscribe to NFL Sunday Ticket the following year.

DirecTV's Sunday Ticket provides subscribers with all NFL games carried by Fox and CBS on Sunday afternoons. The satellite provider makes the service available for no extra charge to those purchasing the Choice Xtra package or a higher level of service.

Earlier this week, DirecTV said it will make Sunday Ticket games available to subscribers via Sony PlayStation 3 game consoles, as well as other devices including Motorola's Xoom and Samsung Galaxy tablets; Motorola's Android phones; Apple's iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch; BlackBerry devices with 3G or Wi-Fi; Palm Pre/Pixi; and other Droid-branded phones.

September