Roku is running interactive pop-up ads during live TV broadcasts

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,454   +1,032
Staff member
Editor's take: I hate to say it, but advertising is a necessary evil. If you desire media content at a reasonable price (or free), you've no choice but to tolerate ad interruptions. It's virtually the only way a content provider can stay in business and keep subscription rates low. However, ad placement should never interfere with the presentation of the media in an intrusive way.

Update (01/21/21): A rook spokesperson reached out to us and said that the ad that the user saw was a bag. Roku has resolved the issue and affirmed that it is not running ads during live television broadcasts.

It appears that streaming TV provider Roku may be testing pop-up ads with live broadcast customers. Over the weekend, a user on the r/cordcutters subreddit reported that Roku served him an ad overlay during a live NFL game. He was not happy.

"Welp, this is the last time I purchase or recommend a Roku," the user said.

The content was a pop-up offer for a Sleep Number bed. It came on the screen shortly after a commercial break where a Sleep Number ad had appeared. ExtremeTech notes that Roku has not commented on the situation, leading users to speculate what is going on with the extra advertising.

It's possible that Roku either has agreements with live TV providers or advertisers to post interactive ads after their live TV slots. Offering a way to immediately purchase a previously advertised product while still fresh in mind is a logical way to increase conversion rates. However, it's a tactic that stirs up a lot of resentment with customers paying for a service already supported by advertising.

One Redditor advised that users can turn off the pop-ups in the Roku settings.

"These [ads] are from companies that have an agreement with Roku to allow these on Roku TVs. As far as I know, they are not on standalone devices," Redditor reinking said, adding, "If I remember how I disabled this correctly, go to Settings > Privacy > Smart TV Experience. Disable the 'Use info from TV inputs.'"

We were unable to verify this claim.

Of course, viewing ads during live TV is expected. Networks have run advertising during all types of broadcasts, from soaps to sports, literally from the beginning. Likewise, ads from streaming services are not entirely unexpected, especially for those that make no money from subscriptions. And even subscribers to streaming TV providers can tolerate some ads to a certain extent.

The real problem here is in the implementation. Having advertisements within menus or the content guide is reasonably unobtrusive. Not many would complain about such ad placement. However, when ads begin to interrupt the viewing experience, users tend to get mad. Roku could quickly rectify this situation by placing the pop-up overlay during the commercial break and not during the television show.

Permalink to story.

 

Bullwinkle M

Posts: 677   +542
"you've no choice but to tolerate ad interruptions. It's virtually the only way a content provider can stay in business and keep subscription rates low."
-------------------------------------
The point is, they have no right to stay in business

Want free media supported by ad's?
Well, that was then, and this is now...
Now you get to pay for a subscription AND get ads

Do you want hardware that keeps you in the walled garden where only the Monopolies can succeed at anything as well?
Well lucky you!

What, now you want uptime service with those bills and time wasting ads?

Sorry, that's not part of our one sided contract

 
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wiyosaya

Posts: 7,489   +6,292
When I am paying for content and I get ads popping up over that content, I would not at all be happy. Personally, I am glad I have a dedicated HTPC and do not have Roku

Unfortunately, this is also a possibility with the upcoming ATSC 3.0 OTA standard as well. In that case, it might be more intrusive and more targeted to an individual household/TV screen. Personally, I hope to get around it by preventing the tuner from sending outgoing data to the internet with a firewall.

 

Bullwinkle M

Posts: 677   +542
Personally, I hope to get around it by preventing the tuner from sending outgoing data to the internet with a firewall.

If they were protecting your personal security, there would be no need for you to do anything

Cancel everything that requires you to compromise yourself

Then they will get the point
 

umbala

Posts: 603   +1,007
"If you desire media content at a reasonable price (or free), you've no choice but to tolerate ad interruptions." Sorry, but this is complete nonsense. Netflix is the world's biggest streaming platform and somehow they managed to achieve that WITHOUT ads! They only charge around $20, which I think is reasonable. Meanwhile, I'm paying almost $100/month for cable TV and almost a third of the programming is commercials! How is this still going on in 2022?! I do not watch ads, period. If the only way you can stay in business is by serving ads then you need to be out of business ASAP.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,670   +7,575
While it is very true that Ads are essential to keep subscription prices reasonable, it is not essential to pile up more and more Ads in order to make a "reasonable profit". The profit of these services is and has been WAY out of line since streaming services began. They took away cable companies subscribers with the promise of staying low cost and now they are every bit as evil as the cable companies were plus they are costing us more through necessary internet subscriptions.

Congress needs to give the FCC control over these services the same as broadcast television. While they run on "private" systems, they use cable that runs across private land in route as well as to the home. This would be the most practical method. This does not mean they need to attempt to regulate content, only cost and control the increases. Existing laws could be easily modified but until we can get both political parties to put the best interest of the tax payers over corporations it has little chance of going anywhere.