Why are ads infesting Android TV sets? Google comes clean

Google is plastering Android TV sets and streaming boxes with advertisements, without telling owners why.

Reports say home screens of Sony smart TVs, as well as the Xiaomi’s Mi Box 3 and the Nvidia Shield TV, now feature a Sponsored channel designed to surface the new apps and content available.

According to an XDA-Developers report, the channel began appearing following a recent Android TV update. However, Google failed to warn users the sponsored channel was on the way before pushing out the update.

Google has commented on the matter, telling the site the ads are part of a pilot program, designed to optimise the experience. A spokesperson said: “Android TV is committed to optimising and personalising the entertainment experience at home. As we explore new opportunities to engage the user community, we’re running a pilot program to surface sponsored content on the Android TV home screen.”

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Meanwhile, ArsTechnica spotted a post on Sony’s support page, after users of its 900F Android TV set discovered the advertisements. The company said the channel is “managed by Google” (meaning ‘don’t blame us’) and said the “change is included in the latest Android TV Launcher app (Home app) update. The purpose is to help you discover new apps and contents for your TV.”

It says users can prevent the content from appearing in the Home menu by creating a Restricted Profile on the TV and then select the apps you would like to use. Thankfully, industrious Reddit users have found a way to be rid of the sponsored channel. Users will need to “uninstall the updates” for the “Android TV Core Services”.

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The decision to add the feature comes following controversy over the likes of Xiaomi and Samsung placing ads on their smart TV platforms. Samsung at least gives users the option of turning them off.

Have you noticed the sponsored channel showing up on your Android TV set? Let us know @TrustedReviews on Twitter.