Android TV adds sponsored content after update

Google adds ads

by Andy Bassett Apr 8, 2019 at 12:22 PM

  • Google appears to have updated the Android TV home screen to include a section titled ‘Sponsored.’ Is this a backdoor to enable adverts and other non-user requested content?
    Reports originating from XDA-Developers have picked up that after Google pushed out the most recent update, the Android launcher now has a new Sponsored content row.

    This is not the first time Google has added new channels for what appears to be sponsored content. Late last year, an update added a new ‘Promotional Channels’ section to the Android TV home screen and included an ‘Apps Spotlight’ channel. In this case, there was a clear option to disable it. However, the latest addition does not seem to have an obvious method of user control over its inclusion on the homepage. Not that this has stopped members of the AV community and Reddit users have reported a way to disable the ads.
    Android powered devices affected include Sony TVs, the Nvidia Shield TV and the Mi Box 3 by Xiaomi. Sony have acknowledged this change on a support page ‘Unlike the other channels in the Home menus, the Sponsored Channel cannot be customised’ but have sidestepped the issue by claiming ‘This channel is managed by Google.‘ They do, however, suggest creating a Restricted Profile which only allows apps to be installed that have been pre-approved by the user. It is not known if other brands running Android TV, such as Philips, TCL and Hisense will be affected as the update rolls out but it would be reasonable to assume the update is universal for the operating system.

    Google themselves have issued a statement: "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."

    The exact nature of this future sponsored content that is due to ‘surface’ was not expanded on but having advertisements shown directly on the homepage would not be completely unexpected.

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