Sony is actively blocking Kodi on their Bravia televisions running Android TV

Sony has blacklisted the media center app Kodi on some models of their Bravia televisions that run Google’s Android TV operating system, according to a tweet on Kodi’s official Twitter account which CordCuttersNews has spotted. By blacklisting Kodi’s package name, they’re blocking the perfectly legal app from running on their TVs.

To the uninformed, Kodi has a reputation of being linked to piracy, but there is nothing illegal about the app on its own. It is the slew of third-party Kodi piracy add-ons that run on top of the default app that have given Kodi this false reputation.

Veterans of Amazon’s Fire TV devices will surely remember when Amazon removed Kodi from the official Fire TV app store for the same false reputation of facilitating piracy. Amazon has, however, never prevented Kodi from being sideloaded or run on Fire TV devices, which is what Sony is now doing for their Android TV televisions. The only apps that Amazon has ever blacklisted are apps that take over the Fire TV home screen.

Kodi users have found that changing the standard package name of the app is enough to bypass Sony’s ban. If you have one of the affected Bravia TVs that are blacklisting Kodi, you can find modified Kodi apps in the official Kodi forum to use which bypass the blacklist. Since these apps don’t use the official package name or signature keys of Kodi, updating these alternate Kodi apps will be difficult, so you may need to backup your Kodi settings and restore them each time you install a newer version in the future.

Hopefully, Sony’s decision to ban Kodi is an isolated case that won’t catch on with other manufacturers. Amazon has never shown any indication that they will blacklist Kodi, other than removing the app from their app store. About a year after removing Kodi from the Amazon app store, Amazon actually explicitly helped out Fire TV Kodi users. When Amazon updated Fire TV devices to finally list sideloaded apps on the home screen, they explicitly included code in the update that placed Kodi at the front of the recent apps row to highlight the change.

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38 comments
  1. clocks says:

    Not sure why they bother. Don’t most pirates use other apps/apks now for that? Is Sony going to try to block everything?

  2. Brett says:

    This is why I refuse to own anything Sony. They make some nice products but they are the absolute worst company for believing they “own” everything they produce and you only rent it. Look up Arcoos, Cinavia, CD root kit (actually installed malware if you put it in your PC). They are pieces of crap.

  3. Dennis M Rodzik says:

    Here’s a good contact number to call and complain;

    Contacting Sony
    Sony Phone Number
    800-430-4433: Customer Service
    Available: call now & skip the wait!

  4. tech3475 says:

    So they’re basically blocking one of the reasons to buy one of their Android based TVs.

    Never touched the pirate addons, but I still like Kodi as a media player and if I was looking for a reason to buy a Sony Android TV it would matter.

  5. Jason says:

    I hope they get a shit ton of backlash. Consumers need to take a stand. Next they’ll come for apps like Plex.

  6. Adam says:

    Reason #212 why you want to have root on a device you pay for. If you don’t, like here, you’re merely renting it. You don’t own it, you’re merely paying a lot of money for the privilege of using Sony’s property as they tell you you can. And if they choose, as other manufacturers of connected products have, you can use the ability to use the product at all.

    • tech3475 says:

      The problem is rooting isn’t for everyone, particularly where cat and mouse games like widevine and other root blocking apps come into play e.g. banking

      • Adam says:

        I’m not arguing for everybody go through what we had to to root the Fire TV on every device, I’m advocating for consumers to seek out, and thereby support a market for devices that respect them as customers, not subjects.

        So, devices that don’t force updates without the user saying yes, updates that don’t remove capabilities present on the device when it was purchased and/or allow users to have the ability to install older updates, and users are able to use the device for any legal purpose it can be made to perform. Call it the hammer model if you wish. I can, if I choose to, use my hammer to eat macaroni and cheese, and nobody at Black and Decker is capable of stopping me from doing so.

        Before you say that this is an unsupportable model for manufactures, think of all the devices that currently meet, or at least don’t violate the above rules, from dumb TV’s to my Nexus phone to my, and probably your, router, to my motherboard and even the keyboard I’m typing on. I _own_ each of these devices in my home, I’ve upgraded the firmware on each of them, and none of them have required anything like wildvine or root blocking apps. Heck, my thesis is that I shouldn’t need any such nonsense like root-blocking on something I paid for. So it can’t be said that it can’t be done with general consumer devices. Its done with millions of consumer devices every day.

        Yes, your average grandma isn’t going to downgrade the firmware on her router, but neither is she going to remotely ssh from her phone to her media server at home, and yet we sell millions of phones to grandmas that are capable of doing exactly that without any perceivable consequence. So it can’t be said that the potential for complexity can’t exist in a general consumer device.

        If the manufacturer wishes, they can refuse to service products used for purposes beyond what they were marketed for. Again, this is done very day, so again, it can’t be said that it can’t be done.

        Its not that allowing the consumer to be the actual “owner” of the device is a “problem”, as you say. Its that companies like Sony see an advantage for them in not allowing them to be.

        • Greg says:

          Rooting is soooo old-school. Get with the times already. Most folks have moved on from rooting by now. Why do you insist on hanging on to such antiquated technology? Do you also use a dial-up modem, write checks, own a non-smartphone, correspond with a fax machine, or receive a newspaper? It’s time to move on.

        • Nate says:

          You hit the nail on the head with your mac and cheese hammer.

          There are multiple instances of being the renter of our devices in recent years. On of my favorites was when I had to agree to let Sonos have data that they didn’t actually require for my speakers work, or else I would not be allowed further updates and my speakers would eventually cease to function.

          When you buy a hardware or software product, it’s up to you whether or not you agree to the privacy options they give you. However, when you’ve already agreed to a certain amount of privacy (or functionality in other cases), and then you’re being told that your losing the privacy or functionality that you already paid for, it’s a bait and switch. And we have no option but to go pound sand if you already own the product, or vote with your pocketbook on future goods.

          • Phil says:

            While I support rooting, I think your argument is less validating. If the justification for rooting a device is to be an “owner” as opposed to a “renter”, then why are you not advocating for the purchasing of movies, music, TV shows, etc. as opposed to the streaming of them? The only argument for rooting that I have ever heard that truly makes sense to me is that you want to do something with the device that the manufacturer didn’t want you to do.

  7. Adam says:

    Lose the ability to use the product.
    Sorry, careless proofreading.

  8. Skylar Thorne says:

    Good news is, Phillips is making new Android TV’s so screw Sony, they ain’t the only ones making Android TV’s

  9. 70decilon says:

    I’m not really trying to be a smart-a, but why does anyone even want a smart TV when a FireTV Stick 4K can be had for so little now, and updated with a new model whenever it seems worth it?

    • Kevin LI says:

      Kodi on fire stick is wack… Go with the cube or the MI box from Walmart

    • tech3475 says:

      These days Smart functionality is common on TVs, it only seems to be really low end TVs which don’t seem to have any kind of Smart functionality built in.

      When it came to replacing our old Living Room TV, the LG TV we were going to buy anyway had more or less all the smart functionality we needed built in to it.

      Only reason we’ll add a Smart Box as of now will be either because a service is dropped or because we want to do something which it doesn’t support.

  10. tampa8 says:

    Smart TV apps for the most part, on most TV’s are ok, rarely great some may be good others bad. But using the same app on a Fire Stick (for example) is clearly better particularly on the 4K. Hulu is far superior on the Stick than on my Smart TV as an example.

    Sony has the right to allow whatever they want, don’t want. We have the right to buy or not buy their products. But I have to say this isn’t an issue I would simply refuse to buy a Sony over if it was the best TV for my needs. That’s because of what I said, using apps on a 4K stick is great and I would use Kodi there anyway.

    • 70decilon says:

      Thanks for confirming what I think. I have 3 smart TVs with a FTVS4K on each one. Now they all behave the same, and I truly think they are all better for it.

  11. Dave says:

    This is good and welcome news. I’m glad to see Sony stepping up to the place and leading by example. Now for Amazon to follow suit.

    • Dave says:

      This is good and welcome news. I’m glad to see Sony stepping up to the plate and leading by example. Now for Amazon to follow suit.

  12. Jon says:

    While Kodi has legit applications and they’ve been promoting those since they ditched the XBMC branding, it’s still widely known as the app you download when you no longer care to pay for your television and movies.

    We’ll have to see if Sony bothers to justify the move, but I wonder if they may make a stance against it because of it’s ability to run un-moderated add-ons?

    Of course, a web brower does that too, so probably not. Their lawyers probably wouldn’t want them to comment and potentially dig a hole, but what it comes down to is that Sony is a media company and it’s got to be pretty distasteful to permit an application that’s so often used to steal their content on their platform.

    How as consumers would we argue against that? Do we have a right when we purchase Android TV to run any apps in the play store meant for TV? Certainly there’s an expectation there, unless the app is incompatible. We can certainly try to ask for our money back – as legally that’s about the extent of any damages.

  13. Jake says:

    I mean SONY was nothing before it made a TV with Kodi right. I wonder if it will go bankrupt.

  14. Joe says:

    As fast as Sony does updates, how long will it take to have them roll this out? I am on the same version of Andriod from two years ago when I got my TV. This is why I got a Fire TV and why here I am.

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