Amazon Fire TV now showing ads before the screen saver kicks in

Mike Wheatley
Amazon Fire TV now showing ads before the screen saver kicks in

Amazon's Fire TV platform is getting another dose of ads, with some users reporting that they're now seeing advertisements of between 30 seconds to a minute when their screensaver would normally kick in.

The new ad intrusion comes after Amazon's Fire TV platform began pushing out full-screen ads on its homescreen earlier this year.

It's the latest development in a concerning trend that has seen the likes of Amazon, Google and Roku stealthily introducing more and more ads to their TV platforms via server-side updates, meaning they don't need to rely on the user to update the software on their own TV.

Google TV introduced home screen ads starting in January 2024, shortly after Fire TV kicked things off in October. More recently, Roku also started showing ads on its home screen, last April.

Those platforms are also experimenting with pause ads, interactive ads and also ads that insert themselves through your TV's HDMI content sources.

Cord Cutters News says the next step appears to be screensaver ads, with Fire TV showing full-screen ads to some users before their screensaver appears. "So far, we have seen ads for AT&T and original footwear from Easy Spirit. In the past, the screensaver would just start, but now Amazon seems to be looking for more ad revenue by showing full-screen ads before that happens," the report stated.

The screensaver ads appear to be rolling out on newer Fire TV devices dating back to 2016 and later, which means the vast majority of users will probably start seeing them.

No Escape

The latest move is not surprising to anyone who is familiar with Amazon's business model, which is based on the idea that you can sell at super low costs -- even at a loss -- in order to make more revenue in the longer term. It's notable that many of its devices, such as its Kindle e-book readers, Echo speakers and Fire TV sticks, are among the cheapest available, and that's because Amazon is essentially subsidizing the cost of these devices. It's playing a long-term game that involves slowly gathering revenue from subscriptions and ads.

That's why it introduced ads on the Amazon Prime Video service, asking customers to pay a bigger subscription fee to avoid seeing them. And it's why Fire TV is being progressively plastered with more and more ads.

While most people accept that advertising is part and parcel of life, there is a need for balance. On the one hand, ads are what enable people to pay much lower costs for very useful services and products, but on the other hand, they can transform the user experience and make things much more unpleasant if there are too many of them.

Unfortunately for consumers, there is no easy escape from this, as Amazon, Google and Roku all appear to be colluding in the campaign to slowly introduce more invasive advertising formats.