If you have an Amazon Fire TV, you may have noticed an annoying new development: Whenever you turn on the device, a full-screen ad plays instead of the usual home screen popping up.
Initially, I thought it may have been a mistake on my part, that I accidentally misclicked a button when turning my TV on. But as it turns out this is a feature, not a bug.
Last week, a new update began rolling out to all Fire TVs from 2016 onward that introduces fullscreen video ads that play automatically upon start-up. The reason for this, as first reported by Cord Cutter News, is that the update changes the default position of the Fire TV cursor to hover over the banner ad at the top of the home menu.
You can quickly exit the ad by hitting the home button or pressing down on the cursor to bring up the home screen. The Verge also notes that while there isn't a real fix for this yet, there is a workaround available from the settings menu: Head there and select preferences, then featured content, then toggle off the "allow video autoplay" option. The banner ad will still appear on your home screen, but it will be a static image now instead; that way when your TV starts up, a slide show will pop up instead of a video.
The update started to roll out to Fire TV users late last week and will be slowly rolling out to more Fire TV in the weeks and months to come. In a statement to CordCuttersNews, Amazon said:
“Our focus is on delivering an immersive experience so customers can enjoy their favorite TV shows and movies, as well as browse and discover more content they’ll want to watch. We’re always working to make the Fire TV experience better for customers and have updated one of the prominent placements in the UI to play a short content preview if no other action is taken by a customer upon turning on their Fire TV.”
Of course, Amazon is hardly alone here. Pop-up ads aren't anything new, and other smart TV operating systems like Google TV and Android TV also sport fullscreen video ads, but with one key difference: The user typically has to hover over these ads before they begin to play. That Fire TVs have now started launching these video ads automatically, without any input from the user, feels significantly more disruptive.
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Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment.
Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats. She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.