Samsung TVs start inserting ads into your movies


Thought you could watch that video on your local hard drive without ads? Think again: A number of owners of Samsung’s smart TVs are reporting this week that their TV sets started to interrupt their movie viewing with Pepsi ads, which seem to be dynamically inserted into third-party content.

“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,” a user reported on Reddit, where a number of others were struggling with the same problem.

Reports for the unwelcome ad interruption first surfaced on a Subreddit dedicated to Plex, the media center app that is available on a variety of connected devices, including Samsung smart TVs. Plex users typically use the app to stream local content from their computer or a network-attached storage drive to their TV, which is why many were very surprised to see an online video ad being inserted into their videos.

Samsung accepted the blame for the ad a day after this story originally published, with a spokesperson telling me it was an error that was confined to TVs sold in Australia:

[blockquote person=”” attribution=””]”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. This situation has been reported only in Australia. We would like to apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”[/blockquote]

A Plex spokesperson had previously assured me that the company has nothing to do with the ad in question. It looks like the Pepsi ad isn’t just making an appearance within Plex. Subscribers of Australia’s Foxtel TV service are reporting that streams watched through the Foxtel app on Samsung TVs have been interrupted by the same commercial. A Foxtel employee responded to these reports by saying that “this absolutely should not be happening and is being escalated immediately.”

It looks like the ad insertion was accidentally turned on by default for apps that it wasn’t actually meant for, but the faux pas points to a bigger issue: Device makers like Samsung have long tried to figure out how to monetize their platforms and generate additional revenue in a time where margins on hardware are slim at best.

Samsung initially tried to sell ads on its smart TVs, but shuttered its paid app store for the big screen a year ago because it realized that most people simply didn’t want to pay for TV apps. Another popular idea in the industry has been to monetize smart TV platforms through media services — but it turns out that isn’t all that easy either, especially at a time where most people are perfectly happy with just using Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Instant.

To its credit, Samsung caught on to this shift in consumer behavior earlier than others as well, and shuttered its movie rental service last July. The last option for Samsung is to monetize third-party apps — and the company isn’t alone in trying. Roku has been particularly aggressive with ad and revenue sharing agreements, but I’ve been told that almost all platforms are trying to strike some kind of deal with more successful developers to either run ads against their content or get a cut of their revenue.

Consumers rarely ever get to know about these deals — unless something goes wrong, which seems to be exactly what happened in the case of that Pepsi ad that popped up on Samsung TVs this week. That’s bad, because there are other issues at hand than interruptions from unwelcome ads. Who, for example, gets what kind of data when TV manufacturers strike deals with advertisers? And how can consumers opt out of data collection altogether?

Coincidentally, the Pepsi ad started to pop up on Samsung TVs a mere day after the company was in the hot waters over another smart TV-related privacy mishap: Earlier this week, an owner of a Samsung smart TV discovered that the company’s privacy policy included warnings not to disclose private information in front of the TV, with the implication that the device might be listening in on our all your conversations. Samsung has since clarified that this isn’t the case — the device is only capturing voice commands when you press the microphone button on your remote control, and otherwise using hot words to monitor for voice commands.

But the incident clearly indicated that companies like Samsung have to be more transparent about the data collection capabilities of their devices. The Pepsi app just seems to be the icing on the cake, urging the company to get serious about this now.

This story was updated on 2/11/2015 with a statement from Samsung.



Hey there,great article! :) I just want to suggest for those who live outside US like me, you can access Netflix, Hulu and similar media stations on your Samsung Smart TV by using UnoTelly or similar tools.


i can’t trust samsung.

my sis has one of their tvs, and many of their apps fail or crash. they’re not a technology company. they buy beta technology from other companies, put it into their tvs, let the customers test it, and they could care less when it doesn’t work.

samsung = untested tech


It’s disheartening that companies are so greedy these days.

Samsung is making a profit off of their TVs.

But that isn’t enough for them. They want to make more money off its customers, by putting ads (sure to come in the future — this mix-up was just a mistake — they’re preparing this technology to force THEIR ads onto us).

And on their “using hot words” (near end of article)… this means they DO listen to everything said near the TV (not just when you push a button, but always)… and it sends your conversations to their server somewhere, that records it, analyzes it, and activates the TV when you say their chosen “magic hot word”. But they ARE listening and recording EVERYTHING. That’s why their privacy warning is given to all owners.

Aileen David

24/02/2015 – The Pepsi pop-up ad is back! I hope this gets through to the writers and editors so they can follow-up with Samsung. The company may have wonderful products, but their services are quite the opposite. They’re taking away the enjoyment of watching, which is the whole point of the television, isn’t it?!


For too long too many people have done too many things no one ever knew was of public interest…


The author quotes as one of his sources a website comment (Reddit) made by someone who watched 6 movies in one day (nut job). Nice reporting Janko Roettgers.


Watching 6 movies in a day makes someone a nut job? It can’t be that they love movies?

You’re a nut job when you love movies now.



Why use Flex when you have Samsung Link? I use Samsung Link and have a folder on one of my hard drives on my PC dedicated for my video files, and can stream them from either TV, Tablet, or Phone.


The question is — did those Pepsi ads pop up shortly after someone in the room happened to say “I’m thirsty” or “Anybody want a Coke?” ….


Dear editor: the words Ad and App are not interchangeable. Please reproof this article.


Get an android Hd Player.
Its about the size of a flash drive and it runs 4.2.1 android.

They are made and sold by dozens of companies and they are similar to chromecast except for the lack of apps and functionality. They turn your device smart for under 100 bucks. Got a cheap one for work for about 35 bucks Canadian.

Nick Aster

I haven’t owned a TV in 15 years. I own a fantastic monitor which will never, ever have anything “smart” about it. This article makes me feel very good about that decision.


Congrats on being TV free! I’m “almost” there, only using mine for watching Turner Classic Movies. In my perfect world, that’s all I need. However, I do have a spouse who needs her “fix” of other channels. tho thankfully she’s not a maniac.


Ive also been tv free for about 6 years. With streaming services coming out all you really need is a computer and monitor.

Chuck Finley

I mean, I guess that works if you’re single or like spending no time with your partner. A computer and monitor really doesn’t work in that situation. Not well.


My suspicion is that this was an upcoming feature for new TVs that was accidentally enabled on already-purchased TVs. I could see this being something like Amazon’s Kindle “With Offers” – $100-200 off the price of a new TV if you opt-in to ads.


So… it’s through via apps you shouldn’t, generally, be using unless you’re an idiot?



I’m sorry, how does using Plex make me an idiot again? My HTPC runs Plex and Kodi, and they are fantastic pieces of software

:Mak (Peace Glory)

And everyone were pissing about Xbox One? Hah! Here you go – the future that Orwell have written

Robert Luciani

I paid a lot for a tv. What I view is not up to Samsung to decide.


Who the f***k in your company came up with this crazy Idea? This is the materialization of the pervet thinking some of those people with a lack of social skills from the operational business administration. This kind of mad ideas are just the right materials wars are made of.

Shane Johns

It could be a novel attempt at implementing Cinivia watermarking. Why waste the opportunity? Instead of showing a screen that says the movie is disabled, show them a nice advert and make some money off the notification…

Smart is a lie

yeah, this is “smart”. real “smart”. smart people don’t buy the “smart” lie.


“My guess is that the ad insertion was accidentally turned on by default for apps that it wasn’t actually meant for, but the faux pass points to a bigger issue: Device makers like Samsung have long tried to figure out how to monetize their platforms and generate additional revenue in a time where margins on hardware are slim at best.” – So you base your entire article without confirmation from Samsung and you’re personal guess. Got it.


Very hard to base his piece on what samsung said when samsung have said absolutely nothing to anyone about any of this. At this stage the authors opinion and guess is as well reasoned and as good a point as anything else we have


That’s a tiny part of the article. Most of the article talks about what is actually happening to users. You work for Samsung or what?


I believe in TV Hardware Neutrality. A TV is a display device. Stupid display devices. They should display all content equally. “Smart TVs” are an oxymoron – a really dumb idea. The brains for the TV should be outside of it.

James Katt

So Smart TVs are
1. Monitoring and recording your voice then transmitting the data to 3rd parties
2. Inserting 3rd party ads into your videos.

Just get me a dumb TV any time.
No need to have give the NSA or hacker a microphone in your home.

Samsung is so desperate for profit, they are willing to sell you to the devil.


We are slowly becoming slaves to these hi-tech trinkets. Companies are well aware of this and will try anything to maximise profit. I’d say it’s time to put a stop to it and go back to simpler things. Screw Smart TVs: you want to watch TV or a dvd/blueray? Just get a normal TV. We don’t need all the extra stuff.

Same as with smartphones: It’s a mobile device used to telephone people, I don’t need a portable computer, seriously!


Far easier said than done. Good luck buying a 60+ inch TV without smart features.


I on the other hand want a portable computer, but a smartphone isn’t one either, it’s a stupid vending machine. Before there where phones and pdas, then they merged this into a smartphone and there are two groups of people that are pissed. Give us phones and pocket pcs back.


Read the article. The TVs aren’t listening and transmitting all the time.


Why would the TV ever need to transmit what is being picked up by the microphone? It should only be using it for local commands and converting words to text for entering text for searching. The privacy policy certainly makes it seem that the TV is sending actual audio to remote servers owned by third-parties.


By serious, do they mean seriously start coming up with a bunch of excuses so they don’t lose all of their money and power? That goes for all companies.
(ps: Go to “Computer” if you have Windows 7. Search “Yula” in the search bar. Delete all files/applications that have the word “Yula” in any part of the file name. Yula is adware, and it will cause a lot of pain if not deleted. Personal experience. Do the same with “Veribrowse”. Don’t believe me, search Yula and Veribrowse in your internet browser. DO NOT DOWNLOAD ANYTHING!)


And they say AIs won’t kill us all, when we can’t even control a TV lol.
The day Samsung makes a TV with legs we are all screwed.

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