Fire TVs now autoplay Full-Screen Video Ads when waking up and what you can do about it

Amazon has made an audacious change to Fire TV devices that causes a full-screen video ad to automatically play when the device is powered on or wakes from its standby sleep mode. Fire TVs have long had a large banner ad at the top of the home screen that, when manually navigated to, would expand into a full-screen video. A recent change made by Amazon has made the ad the new default cursor location, instead of the navigation menu as it has been since the Fire TV debuted in 2014. Making the banner ad the new default cursor location now causes the ad to expand and autoplay immediately.

This change first began appearing three months ago on a limited number of Fire TV devices, likely as a way for Amazon to test the waters on how it will be perceived. The change now seems to be making its way out to the vast majority of Fire TV devices as customer complaints begin to pile up. While the full-screen ad is visible, pressing the Down or the Home button on your remote will close the ad.

Fire TVs do have the option to disable video ads on the home screen. However, doing so does not remove the ads entirely. Instead, disabling the video ads just turns the ads into static images. So, instead of a video ad auto-playing, a full-screen slide show of image ads begin to play. That’s certainly an improvement but seeing your TV screen filled with an ad of any sort by just turning it on is annoying regardless.

If you want to send a message to Amazon that this brash change has crossed the line, my suggestion is to leave a review for any and all Fire TV models that you’ve recently purchased and explicitly mention “Full-screen autoplay ads” as the reason for the review. A sharp and sudden spike in reviews seems to get more attention at Amazon than contacting customer service or sending feedback messages. This will be especially true for the new Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Stick 4K Max since, with only a few thousand ratings, it wouldn’t take too many reviews to be noticed.

22 comments
  1. Ujn Hunter says:

    “Amazon has noticed unusual reviewing activity on this product. Due to this activity, we have limited this product to verified purchase reviews.”

    • Adam says:

      Yeah, they get creative with their rules I’ve learned.
      I haven’t been able to submit a review and years of my reviews with Likes got deleted quite some time ago. All I got is:
      “We apologize but Amazon has noticed some unusual reviewing activity on this account. As a result, all reviews submitted by this account have been removed and this account will no longer be able to contribute reviews and other content on Amazon. If you would like to learn more, please see our community guidelines. To contact us about this decision, please email community-help@amazon.com.”
      The only response I finally received after months and months of unanswered queries was that they found that I had a business relationship with a seller, or solicited free products in exchange for reviews. Never said which. They then repeatedly refused to provide an example where I did such a thing, because of course they couldn’t since there never was one.
      Only later did I realize that it was more likely either a review I’ve left criticizing Amazon for letting sellers sell OEM (read: cheaper versions with less features) products on pages for standard retail versions, or some other review I in which I may have criticized Amazon in a way they didn’t want out there. I pissed off someone petty.
      That’s my current working theory, anyhow…
      Regardless, yeah Amazon really seems to be following the industry trend of testing just how much streaming and streaming-adjacent businesses can abuse customers before they finally snap.
      Have to say, I’m very happy I don’t rely on a FireTV device. This would be maddening.

    • Nate says:

      It is a sad state of affairs when I can clearly see this outcome occurring after a concerted push from us to get those reviews in.

  2. Tj says:

    Another bone headed decision that is going to upset many owners. I was one of them who received this months ago and it’s one of the most annoying changes they’ve made to fire TV. I can only imagine what other annoying ad ideas that have for their new OS.

  3. Nate says:

    It is no secret that Amazon sells all Fire TV hardware at cost, or even a loss, so I can understand from a business standpoint of needing to push their digital content for purchase to make this a viable product.

    What I am seeing though goes far beyond the ever increasing small changes that have degraded the end user experience, rather, there seems to be an overt push by Amazon as of late to make these products seem more like rentals rather than a product we own. Ads are bad enough, but this amounts to pushing ad content front and center with user desired content and apps coming in very a distant second, once again.

    Like other services these days, Amazon is seeing how far they can push the envelope with their content and associated fees before they see a mass exodus of users. An Amazon Prime subscription, additional subscription fees for Amazon Music and the like, a soon to be implemented fee for Alexa, coupled with ads baked into the Fire TV interface and soon, Prime Video too.

    A balance between a healthy bottom line and a decent user experience can be a fine one, but once that line has been blurred so heavily in favor of a stock price, I know I cannot participate by buying Fire TV products any longer. At some point, I have to ask myself, is paying Amazon hundreds of dollars per year worth the nickel-and-diming on top of non-stop ad content?

    I will absolutely voice my displeasure by leaving an Amazon review on the latest 4k Max stick, but I give this only a bit of time before Amazon locks down, or wholesale deletes, any critical reviews.

  4. Tj says:

    Another thing that I noticed for the first time today is that I wasn’t able to skip the ad that plays before loading a movie from Prime. There was no ‘skip’ option on the bottom right of the screen like normal.

  5. Craig S. says:

    Alright. Well? That just cleared up all my worries about Vega Linux. Roku Linux Black Friday deals here I come!

  6. tech3475 says:

    Surprised they didn’t wait until after the sales on their rivals were over.

  7. Viva says:

    This is a translation from German.

    My 1-star review with pictures and criticism regarding advertising overkill was not published.

    The answer I got was(I changed names):

    “Good afternoon Mr. Smith,

    My name is John and I’m part of the Amazon reviews team.

    Thank you for your open and detailed words about the Fire TV Stick 4K Max (2nd Gen).

    I will forward your feedback to our Fire TV development team. The development team is very interested in your opinion.
    Please understand that we cannot provide you with any further suggested solutions, feedback or comments as this is an internal process.

    If you have further feedback, you can simply reply to this email at any time or contact customer service directly.”

  8. BobR says:

    Wow this is indeed sad. We own a lot Fire TV devices, but moved over to Apple TV when they had those great deals <$90. I still use my 2nd gen cube now and then for Thurs night football as Prime on Apple TV doesn't support HDR. The first game this was on the cube was perfect, but last Thursday it too didn't support HDR and the video was choppy (in prior years it was unwatchable). I had to use the Prime app on the LG TV to get HDR and good video quality.

    If they get money from these ads I hope they invest it in the product. I never expected my 2020 LG TV to outlast my best Fire TV devices in terms of utility. It's really awful to hear the stories about people writing accurate reviews. But word of mouth travels quickly this day and age. They will hopefully learn

  9. James says:

    Would adding a launcher take care of this problem?

  10. EmoBrianEno says:

    Like the fridge light, the skeptic in me think these play non-stop while the TV is off.

  11. Nate says:

    Just wanted to comment on this: Despite being a verified purchaser of the device, my negative 1-star review has not been approved by Amazon 24 hours after having made it. My suspicion is that there are a lot more negative reviews in that moderator queue than they let on, or, they are merely waiting for the anger to die down to deny those reviews from being published.

  12. Mike says:

    Well, Elias that was a great idea. I left a one-star review yesterday and to my surprise received a phone call today. Spoke with a very nice woman for ten minutes and went over a myriad of disappointing changes from the past year. She seemed interested, was taking notes. Who knows.

    Thank you for taking the time to speak with me about your review and to provide feedback about the Fire TV Stick.
    We’re constantly working to improve Amazon devices and appreciate your feedback. Customer feedback like yours helps us to improve our devices and provide better service to our customers, and we thank you for taking time to offer us your thoughts. We’ll consider your comments as we plan further improvements.

  13. Simon says:

    Mine just playing some sound even when it is turned off

    • James Thyne says:

      Lately Amazon have started pushing video ads on prime video, which makes no sense and fully unknowing if you’re paying for a subscription, someday soon all these huge intrusive ass will be the end of those device in the market… Because they’re not respecting the owner property and privacy.

  14. TiTech says:

    Lately Amazon have started pushing video ads on prime video, which makes no sense and fully unknowing if you’re paying for a subscription, someday soon all these huge intrusive ass will be the end of those device in the market… Because they’re not respecting the owner property and privacy.

  15. James Thyne says:

    Lately Amazon have started pushing video ads on prime video, which makes no sense and fully unknowing if you’re paying for a subscription, someday soon all these huge intrusive ass will be the end of those device in the market… Because they’re not respecting the owner property and privacy.

  16. James Thyne says:

    Lately Amazon have started pushing video ads on prime video, which makes no sense and fully unknowing if you’re paying for a subscription, someday soon all these huge intrusive ass will be the end of those device in the market… Because they’re not respecting the owner property and privacy.

  17. James Thyne says:

    Lately Amazon have started pushing video ads on prime video, which makes no sense and fully unknowing if you’re paying for a subscription, someday soon all these huge intrusive ass will be the end of those device in the market… Because they’re not respecting the owner property and privacy.

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