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:

The SHIELD does have a new Google Play channel (Apps Spotlight) at the bottom of the screen, but this can disabled by scrolling to "Customize channels" and selecting "Promotional channels." Google is aware of a bug that's affecting some SHIELD users where the Google Play channel (Apps Spotlight) can re-appear after disabling it. They are working on a fix.

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."

Android TV is committed to optimizing and personalizing the entertainment experience at home. As we explore new opportunities to engage the user community, we're running >a pilot program to surface sponsored content on the Android TV home screen.

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, NVIDIA Shield TV, 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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Jason England