New update brings ads to Android TV boxes and Sony TVs [Update]
Update, April 5 at 6:45pm ET: According to an NVIDIA spokesperson, the Shield TV is not part of this sponsored program. Here's the official statement:
What goes great with all your favorite movies and TV shows? If your answer was ads and sponsored placements, then you're in luck, Android TV users. Recently, Google rolled out an update for Android TV with a row of sponsored content. According to Google, this is a "pilot program" intended for "optimizing and personalizing the entertainment experience at home."
Since this is an update to the Android TV Core Services app it will affect all Android TV devices including the Xiaomi Mi Box 3 (opens in new tab), NVIDIA Shield TV (opens in new tab), Sony TVs with the Android TV software, and more. There are currently two ways to stop these sponsored ads from showing up in the Android TV interface. One way involves digging into the settings menu to disable ads, although users on Reddit are reporting that doesn't always work. The other way involves disabling updates to the Android TV Core Services app.
Users on Reddit have been outraged over this incident and rightfully so. Some of these Sony TVs running Android TV cost thousands of dollars. While others are simply infuriated that an update would include ads to begin with. Sony has been quick to distance itself from the decision by putting up a support page shifting all blame to Google and its software, informing users this is part of the recent update and it is meant to "help you discover new apps and contents for your TV."
If you're not a fan of ads and updates that include them, make sure to send feedback to Google about their pilot program and let them know.
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I don't mind recommendations based on my viewing history. It's is how I can find new shows on Netflix to watch. I'm okay with that. But It should end there. When I pay for the hardware, I don't want ads for services I'm not subscribed to, products etc.
Between this and the broken casting abilities via voice commands ("Hey Google, play Billy Joel on TV") that Google doesn't seem to have an interest in fixing, I'm getting really fed up with my Shield TV. I don't really game on it, and am starting to wonder if a Fire TV stick and maybe a Raspberry Pi would do everything I want without the headache. (does the Fire TV have ads?)
No sponsored channel yet for me as Sony are so unbelievably slow I'm still waiting to have a software update from then for many many months!