How popular is Roku? A recent study found that more than 30% of all new TV streaming devices sold in the U.S. in the past quarter ran Roku software. That means Roku is now used on more than 41 million devices across the country. It even pairs with Alexa.
But will its new pop-up ad strategy cost Roku TV customers? If you’re streaming TV content with commercials, get ready to see more ads with Roku TV — or rather, ads on top of ads if your Roku has the latest operating system.
The new ads appear to have been introduced with version 9.2 of the Roku TV operating system. So far, they only appear during commercial breaks. We’ll tell you how the pop-up ads work and how you can put the kibosh to them.
Ads are popping up all over Roku
Those with older versions of Roku TV are used to seeing ads on their home page next to the list of streaming channels, but starting with the latest 9.2 Roku TV operating system, ads will begin showing up throughout your viewing experience.
Don’t worry, this won’t happen on streaming channels that don’t carry commercials or that you paid extra to be commercial-free. Additionally, the pop-up ads are not meant to distract from an advertiser’s message.
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Instead, they complement them. For example, say you’re watching basic Hulu and a commercial comes on about a new show on Fox. Roku will place a smaller, interactive ad from the show’s sponsor next to the show’s original ad that will remind you to set a timer for the show.
So far, these double-decker ads only appear during regular commercial breaks. To serve the ads, Roku appears to be using the same technology it uses to suggest more ways to watch a show — tracking what you are watching on your antenna.
The technology also suggests ways to watch similar shows on different streaming services. If this advertising sensory overload is not for you, there is a way to stop the pop-up ads.
Pop-up ad blues
The good news is you can shut off these pop-up ads quite easily. To tun the ads off, go to your Settings, select Privacy and you will see Use Information From TV Inputs. Just turn that off and the pop-up ads disappear.
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Keep in mind, however, that if you like the way Roku recommends similar shows to watch on different streaming channels, that feature will be disabled as well. That’s because Roku’s monitoring technology links the two features.
Regardless of how you feel about Roku’s double ads, they may have no effect on you yet. The function isn’t available in streaming-device boxes or smart Roku TVs running anything older than OS 9.2.