Smart TV Users Accuse Samsung Of Inserting Pepsi Ads In Their Videos

samsung_hub_handIf you own a smart TV, you probably purchased it thinking about all of the ways that you can use it to watch streaming services and your own library of video files. Samsung sees something different, though: they see a great big Internet-connected screen which they can use to splash ads on. It began three years ago with ads on the TV’s home screen, and now users are accusing the company of inserting advertisements where they don’t belong.

A smart TV is a television set that connects to the Internet directly, with no need for a separate media player. From there, you can use different streaming services on your television, installing an app for each. For streaming video companies, Samsung offers ad partnerships: helping sell your eyeballs to pay for the content you’re watching. That’s good. However, injecting ads in content that users either already pay for access to or files that they actually own? That is deeply wrong.

The current consumer insurrection against Samsung began with with the company’s needlessly vague explanation of how their voice recognition software works. After Samsung calmed us all down, users of smart TV app Plex noticed a Pepsi commercial playing in the middle of content streamed from their own media server within the house. Plex simplifies using your home computer as a media server for smart TVs, streaming devices, tablets, phones, and game consoles. It is not supposed to inject ads in the middle of the program you’re enjoying. Yet that’s what users report happening: Pepsi ads pop up during shows streamed to their sets using Plex.

A spokesperson for Plex told GigaOm that they weren’t adding ads to users’ video streams. Users reported Pepsi ads interjected in other programs while playing programs directly on the TV from their computer, so the app wasn’t serving up the ads. This was caused by the TV, and only users of Samsung smart TVs have reported it.

The first reports of this problem surfaced a few weeks ago. One blogger discovered that he could turn off Yahoo popup ads by disabling them from within the SyncPlus app.

Why did Samsung ever think that in-program popup ads while watching their own videos from a home media server was a service that customers could possibly want?

Did something go wrong with the ad software? We contacted Samsung, and will update this post when we find out what’s going on here.

Update: Samsung sent us this response about the ad weirdness, saying that they have only heard of this problem happening in Australia.

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.

Samsung smart TVs inserting ads into third-party apps [Ars Technica]
Plex stops half way through and plays a pepsi ad [Reddit]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.