Virgin Media told off by ASA over buffering claims
After a few weeks without any complaints, the broadband industry is once more back in the dock at the ASA. This time it is Virgin Media and a TV advert that had David Tennant destroying a buffering symbol with a baseball bat and the claim ""Now from Virgin Media, you could say goodbye to buffering with superfast fibre-optic broadband".
18 consumers complained about the advert, with the common theme that the advert was misleading as they understood users would still experience buffering. The evidence presented by Virgin Media seems to revolve around the Ofcom speed data and testing by Virgin Media themselves, which apparently show that on the slowest product they sell currently (30 Mbps) no customer received download speeds of less than 15 Mbps. This is of course several times faster than the accepted speed that most Internet video requires to stream which is 1.5 Mbps to 4 Mbps, though this speed is rising and even today YouTube is hosting 4K videos.
Virgin Media when creating the advert believed the use of the word could was enough to cover the times when things like the consumers home network was the source of the buffering, and of course the ability for the server serving the video stream to cope with the level of demand. Alas the ASA has not seen the situation in the same manner and has upheld the complaints, particularly as the destruction of the buffering symbol visually suggested the complete removal of buffering.
The 4K trailer appears to stream at a rate of around 24 Mbps when played in original quality, but very few people have a monitor that will display it at its native resolution. The 1080p version streams after an initial buffering at around 5 Mbps, the 1080p version offers a good image but not as crisp as the 4K version even when viewed on a 1920x1200 monitor, due to the higher bit rate producing less compression artifacts.