Roku to follow Fire TV and Google TV by also displaying video ads and more on its home screen

While it’s not particularly popular among Fire TV and Google TV enthusiasts, the one thing Roku has always had going for it is its simplistic home screen that mainly consists of a grid of apps and one large static image banner ad. That’s going to change because Roku is following in Amazon and Google’s footsteps by soon adding video ads to its home screen for the first time.

During yesterday’s quarterly earnings call, when speaking about the static banner ad on Roku’s home screen, Roku CEO Anthony Wood said, “We’re going to add video to that ad. So that will be the first video ad in that we add to the home screen.” Wood didn’t specify whether the upcoming video ads would auto-play, as they now do on Fire TV and Google TV home screens, but if they don’t do so at first, my guess is it’ll just be a matter of time before they inevitably do.

The single existing static banner ad gaining video ads may not be the only annoyance coming to Roku’s home screen. Wood said, “We’re also testing other types of video ad units, looking at other experiences we can add to the home screen that would be where we can innovate more video advertising.” He continued by saying “So there’s lots of ways we’re working on enhancing the home screen to make it more valuable to viewers but also increase the monetization on the home stream.”

Roku recently added a content row to the top of its home screen, above the grid of apps, marking the first time its home screen directly surfaced content outside of ads. This, along with Wood’s comments, seems like the beginning of the end of Roku’s simple home screen where apps have historically been the focus.

15 comments
  1. tech3475 says:

    I shouldn’t be surprised, especially given their recent advert patent, but I’m still disappointment.

    I’m hoping Apple announces a new streamer soon as rumored.

  2. Quantomoracle says:

    i threw all my rokus in the bin after that ads on other devices patent was discovered. I know its doesnt mean they are doing it but the fact that they can display ads over whatever i connect via hdmi is scary and i wont support it. Since they thought about it and went through with filing a patent its only a matter of time before they do it. Never thought id see the day when roku is pushing more ads on you than google and amazon but ig i should of they are a business that cares about nothing but money. No matter if its detrimental to the consumer.

  3. Mike says:

    I’ve replaced my Roku, FireTV and GoogleChromecast with a laptop connected via HDMI that has a browser with good adblocking. It’s not as fancy, but it turns out to be easier to work with by just going directly to the streaming service I want to watch.

  4. Richard says:

    I don’t know what you’re talking about, but they’ve had the ads since it came out

  5. Tingo says:

    That’s roku in the bin. Shame.

  6. Hittsy says:

    I’ve ditched my FTV cube and sticks for an Nvidia Shield running lineageOS. Finally, an add-free homescreen.

    • tech3475 says:

      You didn’t need to replace the OS, the default launcher can be replaced relatively easily on the stock firmware and isn’t actively blocked ala Amazon.

    • Adam says:

      Seems like a lot of work since, as tech3475 below says, its a simple matter to replace the launcher on the Shield with one from the Google Play store. Map it to a remote button and you never have to see the default launcher.
      Probably not as seamless an experience as Lineage once its installed I imagine.

      Did you lose your Windvine keys for the streaming services?

      • tech3475 says:

        I didn’t even need to map a button, in my case via ADB it’s possible to have a different launcher completely replace the default launcher.

        I also did this on a the Chromecast w/ Google TV.

        That said, I read a comment elsewhere a long time ago that at least one launcher used a different method to replace the default launcher (I think it just ‘monitors’/’listens’ for the home button and launches itself).

        • tech3475 says:

          Quick update, seems the method I used on the CC by disabling the stock launcher breaks casting.

          The method worked fine on my Shield though when I last tried.

      • Hittsy says:

        Widevine seems to work. All of my streaming apps (prime video, paramount, peacock, Plex, Disney plus and max) stream capably. I’ve noticed some color balance issues which I haven’t tracked down yet to the device, HDMI cable, or the TV setting a weird profile for the device yet – which means I haven’t gotten around to seeing if my 4k content being stream is… Actually 4k.

        As for why I went with LOS, the shield is still stuck on android 10 or 11 with stock. I figure lineage will likely support it for longer.

  7. JC says:

    I guess Roku figures that the people who’ll leave will be in the minority. I left for a custom launcher last fall when they started experimenting with the home screen, only to realize that I preferred certain Fire TV versions of apps.

  8. Raymond says:

    I don’t understand all this excitement about a Roku streaming device. That sh*t doesn’t even have a browser from what I have heard

    • Manabi says:

      They were good for people that weren’t great with technology, because the UI was simple and easy to use and understand. My dad, who really struggled with technology, had no problems with it, but would have been lost with the FireTV UI. This was a man that couldn’t handle the UI change from Windows XP to Vista and who always pressed hard on icons on his smartphone no matter how many times mom & me told him only to tap lightly. I had to use the option to lock the home screen in Nova Launcher on his phone so he wouldn’t accidentally move icons around/delete them/etc.

      • JC says:

        I can relate. I had to spend around an hour guiding my mom through the Roku setup over the phone. Getting her to use Fire TV probably would’ve been hopeless. I still prefer the Roku home screen — well, the current version anyway — and the Roku remote. But certain Fire TV apps are better. The only way to kind of get the best of both worlds is to add a custom launcher to Fire TV, and to wrap a soft shell around an Alexa Voice Remote Pro.

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