ASA forces Sky to pull online movie ad

Editor | 29-08-2012

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has compelled BSkyB to withdraw an advert for its Sky Store on the grounds that download speeds are not, as was stated, “instant”.

The ASA was responding to a complaint by BT challenged whether the claims in Sky’s press ad stating that "New Sky Store ... available instantly through your Sky+ box" and "Rent movies instantly through your Sky+ box" misleadingly exaggerated the speed with which consumers could use the service.

In response, Sky asserted that customers would understand the words "rent movies instantly" to mean that they could rent a movie directly through their Sky+ box and begin viewing within seconds, as opposed to minutes. The pay-TV giant added that Sky Store allowed customers to begin watching a film before it had been fully downloaded, at the earliest point possible without the customer hitting a download buffer that would interrupt playback. It added that, based on the line connection data that their network platform collected at regular intervals from active Sky Broadband connections, the large majority of those with ADSL broadband would be able to start watching a movie within a minute.

Furthermore Sky believed consumers understood that services provided over the internet would be affected by the speed of their broadband connection and they pointed out that the small print had emphasised that a "fast enough broadband connection" was required.

In its judgement, the ASA considered that consumers would indeed understand that video content accessed via the internet would be affected by the speed of their home internet and that they would need a "fast enough broadband connection" in order for the service to allow them to rent movies "instantly". The ASA concluded though that users would interpret this to mean straightaway, or with no noticeable delay.

The ASA also noted that Sky estimated a significant majority of ADSL broadband users would be able to begin watching an average length movie within less than a minute after beginning the download, and that those with fibre optic and cable broadband connections were much more likely to be able to begin viewing within that time frame. However, it regarded a delay of up to a minute for most customers would not be in line with what it called “reasonable expectations” for an online movie service which was described as "instant".

It therefore considered that the ad had exaggerated the capabilities of the service and that it was likely to mislead, breaching CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising), 3.7 (Substantiation) and 3.11 (Exaggeration).

Read more: ASA forces Sky to pull online movie ad | Rapid TV News