Amazon Fire TV could get a free upgrade soon, but it won't be for everyone

A new Fire TV feature is being tested, but you might not want it

Amazon Fire TV set on wall
(Image credit: Amazon)
Quick Summary

Amazon could soon roll out an update that plays adverts before your screensaver kicks in.

It appears to be coming to US customers across all Fire TVs built from 2016 onwards.

Amazon could be about to release a new Fire TV update that'll add a new feature – but you might prefer it didn't.

Just weeks after it rolled back its full-screen video ads that played on startup, it's testing another way to feed you ads – this time via your screensaver.

That's according to Cord Cutters News, which says that if you leave your Fire TV inactive for a while you'll get a long advert – between 30 seconds and a minute
before your screensaver kicks in. The new ads appear to be rolling out in the US to all Fire TV models made in 2016 or later.

It's fair to say that the test is not going down well with users. As one commenter put: "It's one thing for content to have ads, but the device itself should not."

What's Amazon doing with Fire TV ads?

Amazon's been pushing more ads into its platform for a while now. In addition to inserting ads into Prime Video content unless subscribers pay extra, it's added full-screen video advertising on the home screen and briefly added ads on device startup, although that latter was rolled back after a user outcry.

Amazon isn't the only firm doing this; for example, Roku is keen on homescreen ads too. But I'm with the Cord Cutters commenter when it comes to on-device ads. Ads on free or ad-supported content are part of the deal, but when you buy a piece of hardware, such as a TV or streaming device, it's pretty customer-hostile for firms to start degrading the user experience after you've bought it. 

There's no guarantee that the new ad feature will be adopted across devices – it's allegedly just in the testing phase at present – but a full roll out could clearly make some consider rival TVs instead. Even if Amazon's own Fire TVs end up hevaily discounted in the Prime Day sales.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).