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.