It's great when manufacturers add things such as HDR support, fixes, or performance patches to smart TVs. But Google's latest schtick is infuriating users.
Android TV owners say ads have been appearing on their home screens without warning. After investigating the matter, XDA Developers reports that the new "Sponsored" channel has been spotted on a number of Android TV models, including smart TVs from Sony, the Xiaomi Mi Box 3, and the Nvidia Shield TV.
The ads began appearing after Google pushed out an update for the Android TV operating system. Users have not been warned about the sudden arrival of ads, however.
A Google spokesperson has confirmed the change, saying the ads are part of a "pilot program," and that "Android TV is committed to optimizing and personalizing 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."
Sony, meanwhile, says the ads are Google's doing. On its support page, the company notes that "the purpose [of the sponsored channel] is to help you discover new apps and contents for your TV."
How To Disable Ads On Android TV
The bad news is there doesn't appear to be many options to disable the ads. On affected Sony TVs, the only way to get rid of them is to create a Restricted Profile in the TV that's filled with apps the user actually wants to use.
Reddit users have reported that even if they attempt to disable "Android TV Core Services," turn off auto-updates, and even go as far as delete the latest update altogether, the ads still return after restarting their systems. Others have figured out a workaround by rolling back their TV's Play Services app.
Google isn't the only company that has placed ads on TVs. Back in 2016, Samsung was caught doing something similar, and last month, Vizio said it was developing a new standard that would allow smart TVs to surface targeted ads.