Google begins displaying Sponsored Ads on Android TV home screen

Televisions and streaming media players running Android TV have begun displaying sponsored ads on their home screens. The ads were spotted by Zatz Not Funny, among many others, and first reported on by XDA Developers. The ads have been seen on the NVIDIA Shield TV, Mi Box, and Sony televisions. Google has confirmed that this is a “pilot program” that they themselves are running. Unlike the Apps Spotlight row that began appearing on devices a little while ago, this new sponsored ad row cannot be turned off unless you lock the device down by creating a restricted profile.

  1. Dougie says:

    Would PiHole stop this ?

  2. Fjtorres says:

    Is anybody really surprised?
    Google is an advertising company, that’s how they make their profits.
    If they ever get audited like Facebook it’s going to get really interesting what comes out.

    And now Amazon is diving into that pool.

  3. tech3475 says:

    It is possible to change the default launcher on the Shield, I personally switched to Sideload Channel after disliking the new UI, however you will need to do the following to change the default launcher:

  4. Jon says:

    I have not seen these ads on my Shield, and according to Google these will not be coming to the Shield or the Mi box. I also doubt pi hole will work, according to 9to5google ad blockers will block the advertisement but will not get rid of the row. So you will just have a blank row.

    “When reached out for comment, Google confirmed that it is testing sponsored content on the Android TV homescreen. The company did not, however, explain any further on what sort of content we can expect to see, but did mention that Nvidia and Xiaomi hardware shouldn’t see this”

    • Rob says:

      I have this “Sponsored” row on both of my Shield’s home screen. I did disable them, like I would any other channel, and so far they haven’t returned. Hoping it stays that way….but not counting on it.

      • Jon says:

        I could be wrong, but you had the featured channel, and this has been a part of the Shield since version 7. This is different than the sponsored row. My featured channel did reappear also, but like you I simply disabled it like I did when my Shield updated to firmware version 7.

    • John says:

      Sponsered row appeared on my shield. Removed row and it disapeared. Havent rebooted….but usually left running and goes to sleep anyway so we will see

      • Jon says:

        I really dont think I am wrong on this one. I could be, but I just dont see why my Shield would be any different than anyone else. I would bet if you turned the row back on it wouldnt say sponsored, it would say something along the lines of featured by Google Play, and in the settings it would say something like app spotlight.

        I know this really isnt worth arguing about, especially since they are pretty much the exact same things, but at the same time they are not what this sponsored controversy is about. This featured/app spotlight row has been a part of our Shields for quite some time now. At first I thought it was the sponsored row myself when it came up, but after digging into it I realized I was wrong and when Google updated the launcher they enabled the setting we all disabled. If it was the sponsored row, it would not be able to be disabled. Once again I would bet if you turned on the row again it would not say sponsored at all. If I am wrong post a photo some where and I will admit I am wrong, but I just dont see my Shield being special. I really bet you are just confusing the row that has been on our Shields since firmware version 7 since Google was a jerk and enabled it on all our devices.

        Google even stated that it is not on the Shield or Mi box and is only on TVs. Trust me I am not at all a Google/Nvidia fanboy, I have a list a mile long of complaints for both companies.

      • Christopher Loughrey says:

        The featured by Google Spotlight row isn’t the sponsorship row. Only some users have the sponsor row for now and you can’t disable it

  5. Rob says:

    No, it’s definitely a “Sponsored” row that I’m seeing, and others over at the Geforce forums are reporting the same. Not a big deal to me if it does return since it’s at the bottom of the Channels list….easy to ignore.

  6. y2bogus says:

    So they turned their UI into Amazon’s. Bass ackwards.

  7. Eric says:

    my nvidia shield tv is already slow with only few apps installed. now advertisement will only add to it. :(

  8. Me says:

    So, you pay to Sony for a TV and Google encroaches it?!?!

    Is that legal?, is Sony (or whoever more) advertising about that before the purchase?

    • Christopher Loughrey says:

      Sony is utilising Google’s software for free. You’re not paying for the software, only the hardware. Perfectly legal

      • Me says:

        I don’t agree with that.
        As a consumer you should perfectly know this behaviour BEFORE purchasing (at least as EU law defines it), as we perhaps would prefer another product that respect a bit more our privacy…

        Sorry, but not perfectly legal.

        • Kawshik Ahmed says:

          I am certain when you pressed ‘Agree’ on the Android TV’s End User Agreement there was line about Google showing ad on the platform :p. So, if you complain now then you are the criminal.

          Tizen, WebOS, Roku, Fire OS all show ads.

          • Me says:

            Seems that the matter I’m refering to is not well understood:
            BEFORE THE PURCHASE of TV, not after…

            Consumer the criminal???. You are far away… Seems you are not a constructive person to talk about; and if you can read it better, was not only refering to Sony….

            MY OPINION, with arguments, is that is not perfectly legal in some places (not only US).

  9. Christopher Loughrey says:

    Surprised they haven’t done it already for Android in general. They only make revenue from purchased apps and app licences which isn’t very profitable for Google on the large scale of things, even less so for the Android TV where very little apps are downloaded.

  10. Charlie says:

    Not on my Shield … yet. In the early days the Internet was a brave new world. Now, it’s all about making money and advertising.

  11. TechyChris says:

    I have been using the SIDELOAD CHANNEL app(from Google Play)on my Mibox for the past year, which allows complete customization of all apps and channels on the home screen
    (including hidden side loaded apps).

    Adds are NOT an issue.

    • TechyChris says:

      ***UPDATE*** On several of the Android TV/MiBox Reddit forums users are reporting that Xiaomi has stated they did not agree to the sponsored Google adds being placed on their devices and will allow users to turn them off. Sorry I don’t have links, it’s obviously a hot topic in several forums. I will look into it on my own MiBox later today. Not sure if it requires a software update.

  12. James P Updike says:

    Great thing is that unlike Fire TV you can easily use a different launcher and don’t have to see the android launcher and ads ever…

  13. Brian says:

    I hope this doesn’t role out, and if it does. You better be able to move it to the bottom. One of the reasons I bought a shield tv. If not at least Google could come out with cheaper sticks, like Amazon. Really missing the boat, on affordable android tv boxes.

  14. pmcd says:

    This is most unfortunate, though predictable. The ad business is an evil fruit. Ruined TV, professional sports, etc… The Fire TV was already one big ad for Amazon. My Sony Android TV has had ads for ages and as a result we don’t use it. Too bad if it hits the Shield. That will leave just the Apple TV. Hope Apple holds out but I wouldn’t count on it.

    One day people will realize just how much they lost in exchange for all those “freebies “ from Google.

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