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Samsung TVs are inserting ads into movies & videos

12 Feb 2015 | Rasmus Larsen |

Several owners of Samsung Smart TVs have begun noticing ads ever 10-30 minutes when watching locally-stored movies and videos as well streaming content. Samsung says that it is caused by an error in Australian TVs, but there can be no doubt that the system has been integrated on purpose.

Ads in your home videos

Samsung is having a really bad week. A few days ago, people began worrying that Samsung’s TVs were eavesdropping on them, and now this. Imagine watching one of your home videos of your children, stored on your media server. Every 10-30 minutes the video will stop to display a Pepsi commercial. That is exactly what several users have experienced in recent days.

- ”Every movie I play 20-30 minutes in it plays the pepsi ad, no audio but crisp clear ad. It has happened on 6 movies today.” writes one user at Reddit.

It is surely not unusual to see commercials on a TV, but the difference is that these ads are served by the actual TV, and not embedded in the content. This means that ads will show during every home video you watch. So far owners have reported seeing Pepsi ads during video playback from the built-in media player, while using the Plex app, and while streaming from Foxtel Play; an Australian streaming service.

Plex was quick to assure everyone that it had nothing to do with the ads. Foxtel also immediately responded by saying; ”This appears to be a Samsung related issue and has been escalated to them with the highest priority”. In other words, it could happen while watching Netflix, too.

Panasonic is doing something similar, with pop-up ads during volume control.

Caused by an error, says Samsung

FlatpanelsHD contacted Samsung, which has provided the following statement:

- “We are aware of a situation that has caused some Smart TV users in Australia to experience program interruption in the form of an advertisement. This seems to be caused by an error, and we are currently conducting a full and thorough investigation into the cause as our top priority. This situation has so far been reported only in Australia. We would like to apologize for any inconvenience experienced by our customers.”

However, the ads have also appeared in the US, which has the same Yahoo! system put in place, as reported by David Chartier around one month ago.

Samsung commercials


The ads started appearing after a TV software update and a partnership between Samsung and Yahoo. Samsung says that the ads are caused by an error, but there can be no doubt that the system has been integrated on purpose. Users are prompted to approve Yahoo’s terms and conditions that pop up on the screen. There is no information about ads in the pop up text. According to some owners, the ads can be removed by going to Smart Hub -> Terms & Policy -> Yahoo! Privacy Policy.

The reports come just days after Samsung’s voice search privacy policy has been under attack. Samsung has responded to the concerns, but has still not detailed what data is collected, why, and for how long. Some observers fear that companies are collecting data, for example audio recordings, to serve contextual ads. However, there are no examples of such on TVs yet.

Still, the two cases raise additional questions. For example; what happens with recordings from the TV camera? In modern Samsung Smart TVs the camera uses a limited, always-on state for its “gesture controls” that allows you to enable gestures controls by waving at the TV at any time.

- Source: GigaOm, Ars Technica, Reddit, David Chartier, Foxtel



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