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Android TV home screen starts showing unwanted advertisements

An image uploaded to XDA Developers shows a row labeled “Sponsored” on the Android TV home screen. XDA Developers

Android TV owners have started seeing unwanted advertisements on the home screen, in the form of a row of “sponsored” content.

The unwanted ads have appeared on Sony smart TVs, the Xiaomi Mi Box 3, and the Nvidia Shield TV, among other Android TV devices. A similar Android TV feature named Apps Spotlight that shows Google Play Store apps is easy to disable, but the new row of sponsored content has proven to be a bit more difficult to deal with.

The sponsored channels are apparently part of a pilot program by Google, which has affected even high-end TV models that are powered by the Android TV platform.

“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,” a Google spokesperson told XDA Developers in a statement.

Fortunately, Reddit user Felisens discovered a way to disable the unwanted ads that involves uninstalling the updates for the Android TV Core Services app. This will crash the TV’s home screen, but this should be fixed with a restart by pressing the Home button. Once the update has been rolled back, the ads may be removed from the home screen through the minus button or the channel settings page. This will require automatic updates to be disabled though, which may not be a good idea over a longer term as it will also prevent security updates from coming in.

In response to the appearance of the sponsored content, Sony published a support article on its official website that explained that the ads are managed by Google. The article confirms that the content in the sponsored channel may not be manually changed, so Sony suggested owners create and enable a Restricted Profile where they can select only the apps that they use.

Google told 9to5Google that the sponsored row should not be appearing on Xiaomi or Nvidia hardware, without an explanation on why the unwanted ads have reportedly appeared on the Xiaomi Mi Box 3 and the Nvidia Shield TV.

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