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Google pushes ‘sponsored content’ to some Android TV devices

This week has seen an increased interest in Android TV for all the wrong reasons. It recently came to light that Android TV devices had started to display a “Sponsored” row on the home screen.

TV owners are reporting sponsored ads being shown on their home screens. Google says this is a “pilot” to “engage the user community.” Most of the users just want it off their expensive TVs.

Owners of certain Android TV devices including Sony smart TVs, Nvidia Shield, and Xiaomi Mi Box 3 have noticed ads appearing on the home screen according to XDA Developers. The ads seemed to have appeared following an Android TV update.

The Android TV update started displaying ads under the “Promotional Channels” title in the launcher. Not only were users not notified of this change, there wasn’t a way to disable the ads. There has since been ways to get round it but it basically involves uninstalling the updates for the “Android TV Core Services” app. This allows you to either delete the ads from the homescreen or disable them from the channel settings page.

Google later sent a response to XDA Developers saying:

“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’s support page says that the purpose is “to help you discover new apps and contents for your TV.” It also suggests creating a Restricted Profile with the apps you want to use in order to keep the ads from appearing in the home menu.

For those unhappy with having these ads delivered directly to them, the jury is still out on just how much control you as the viewer/device owner has.

Disabling the feature is technically possible as other users have highlighted there is an option buried within the settings under “Channel Customization” and then “Promoted Channels” (as shown below with more details here) to toggle the feature on and off – as you can with Apps Spotlight and most other apps that adopt Oreo’s home screen channel feature.

However, there are mixed reports on the functionality of this with some users stating the Sponsored row eventually reactivates itself after a period of time, while others have claimed that you cannot currently disable/enable the feature to begin with – in spite of it showing up in the settings.

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