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Some Amazon Fire TVs are auto-playing fullscreen ads on startup (Update)

Users hadn't even begun interacting with the TV before the ads started playing.
By
November 24, 2023
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Adam Birney / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Amazon Fire OS devices such as Fire TV and Fire TV Sticks have recently begun showing fullscreen auto-playing ads simply upon switching on the TV.
  • These ads begin playing without any user interaction beyond booting the TV.
  • Users can turn off these ads by going to Settings > Preferences > Featured Content and disabling Allow Video Autoplay and Allow Audio Autoplay.
  • Amazon has confirmed the change is part of an update that will roll out globally over the coming months on Fire TV devices released after 2016.

Update, November 24, 2023 (2:20 PM ET): Amazon has now provided a statement to Android Authority. A spokesperson for the company states:

Customers love the ability to discover new TV shows and movies on Fire TV—and, as with anything we do, we’re always looking to make that experience better. Our most recent update to the Fire TV home screen means customers will start on the Learn More button of one of our most popular placements to discover something great to watch. If customers would prefer not to watch the preview clips, or do so silently, they can update by visiting Settings > Preferences on their Fire TV devices.
The new Fire TV home screen will roll out to Fire TV customers globally over the coming months on all Fire TV devices released after 2016.

Original article, November 24, 2023 (5:50 AM ET): Most of us use a smart TV these days, primarily to stream new TV shows and movies. There is a lot of focus on content discovery on a smart TV user interface, as what is shown to the user in the first minute likely dictates what most of us would watch for the next hour. But organic content is slowly being replaced by ad content in most prominent smart TV platforms. Amazon is taking it a step ahead by automatically playing an ad directly on startup, with no user input beyond switching the TV on.

User reports (spotted by 9to5Google) indicate that some Fire TV owners are seeing fullscreen video ads that autoplay upon startup. The user did not even begin navigating the TV interface; the ad began from the homescreen itself without any interaction. A video of this behavior, as shared by the user, has been reproduced below:

The user reported this on a Fire TV, but the issue has also been reported on Fire TV Sticks, so it is likely related to the broader Fire OS platform.

Needless to say, such auto-playing ads are pretty intrusive, and we all hate it on other platforms that have adopted auto-playing ads. Imagine if your phone played an ad every time you woke up the lockscreen; that is what this experience is similar to. This also isn’t the only ad on the user interface, as Amazon makes plenty of other monetization surfaces available to advertisers. Other smart TV platforms are also in the same boat.

If you’re looking to stop these auto-playing fullscreen ads on boot, follow these steps:

  • Go to Settings > Preferences > Featured Content on your Fire OS device.
  • Disable Allow Video Autoplay. This will turn off the video ads and show only static images.
  • Disable Allow Audio Autoplay. Use this setting if you don’t mind auto-playing video (and prefer it over static image ads) but would like the ads to play muted.

We’ve reached out to Amazon for a comment and more details. We’ll update the article when we hear back from them.