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Android TV recently rolled out a new feature that adds highlights to the home screen, although many simply see them as ads. However, reports seem to indicate that the NVIDIA SHIELD TV might be exempt from the new ads. While that makes sense, considering NVIDIA’s approach to the platform, it probably won’t last.
The new feature was touted by Google as a means for Android TV users to find new content to watch. It is a recommendations-based feature, common to many apps and services. The problem is, its placement on the home screen, as well as the fact that some of the content comes from sponsors, and that users can’t really disable them, points to more than just a feature to benefit users. In this sense, it is not much different to ads or product placements.
While the SHIELD TV is an Android TV device, it is largely in a league of its own, offering the most powerful Android TV experience in a set-top box. Furthermore, NVIDIA has been very good at keeping its products updated in general, as well as adding new features. In the case of apps like Vudu and Prime Video, getting arrangements in place before there’s an Android TV-wide equivalent agreement. Overall, NVIDIA has repeatedly proved that it understands what consumers want, and one of those things is less ads.
The ‘Android TV Advantage’
With the feature now rolling out, many have encountered the new highlights/ads and just as many are unhappy with the situation. However, and primarily on Reddit, many SHIELD TV owners have noted that their devices have yet to encounter the ads – as is the case with ours. 9to5 Google also picked up on the frequency of reports, further confirming the SHIELD’s presumed exemption.
Whether that continues to be the case, remains to be seen, as it is unlikely Google would want such an important feature to not be included on all consumer Android TV devices. Not to mention, this would create a situation where some manufacturers might want to follow suit and skip the ads as well.
In spite of this, it does makes sense that SHIELD TV has yet to see the ads go live. Back in 2019 when the company was launching the latest versions of the SHIELD TV, NVIDIA representatives told the media in a briefing that Android TV was not just included in the SHIELD for the sake of it, but it actually was the preferred platform of choice.
Essentially, NVIDIA spoke about an ‘Android TV advantage’ with one of the core benefits being the lack of ads. NVIDIA liked the fact that Android TV was an ad-free platform and the suggestion was, the company would continue to stick with Google for as long as that remained the case.
Again, NVIDIA has routinely demonstrated that it likes to write its own rules on what the Android TV experience is, including ensuring that its customers get the features (and apps) they want. Therefore, it makes sense that if the company was capable of agreeing to a delay – maybe until the next SHIELD TV update rolls through – that it would get that delay, and for as long as it could.
That said, a delay is not the same as an exemption and it remains unclear if NVIDIA really has managed to avoid implementing ads completely. After all, not only are ads something Google will want to be universal across the consumer Android TV experience, but it is also pretty much Google’s main business.