Smart TVs, Dumber By The Moment

Dave Zatz —  January 19, 2015

samsung-spam

Like many of you, I’ve questioned the value of a “smart” TV. On one hand, quick access to online apps like Netflix courtesy “Input 1” ~with no additional equipment~ is quite appealing. However, despite advances in performance and functionality, we’re not going to replace our televisions at the same rate we might be compelled to pick up the latest and greatest streaming solutions. Not to mention reboots and advertising further diminish the value prop.

Sadly, to get the very best panels and processing these days, whatever new set one acquires will likely be saddled with an Internet platform. And no one abuses that connectivity and customer goodwill as effectively as Samsung. What they and Delivery Agent call a “Solution” the rest of us will call a “problem” … as David Chartier and the Boston Globe point to a newly introduced overlay that drops a (Dunkin’ Donuts) ad unit on top of a possibly related commercial. They presumably use metadata markers, as TiVo has, to determine when to hit you with an ad. But really the technical intricacies are secondary to the compromised user experience and disruption.

Whereas I disabled Panasonic’s volume bar advertising and managed to similarly head off Vizio’s intent, getting rid of Samsung’s commercial interruptions aren’t so straight forward. Chartier suspects the obscure SyncPlus app may kill the crap. But he was also under the impression that he’d previously disabled it…

25 responses to Smart TVs, Dumber By The Moment

  1. Yet another reason I’m contemplating a (dumb) projector instead of a new television after returning the Vizio M Series

  2. “getting rid of Samsung’s commercial interruptions aren’t so straight forward”

    Well, he’s not willing to disconnect it from the internet, which I imagine would solve the problem, no?

    “Yet another reason I’m contemplating a (dumb) projector instead of a new television”

    Assuming the simple ‘disconnect from internet’ trick works, seems an unnecessary reason…

    —–

    Also, I’m disappointed that no manufacturer has taken up my suggestion of video overlay ads taking up 3/4 of the screen, while relegating a user’s less important content to a 1/4 screen box.

    —–

    Finally, I’m beginning to think my patented catchphrase:

    “Smart TV’s are for Dumb People”

    which always triggers the sitcom laugh track when I utter it, may be my greatest contribution to the site.

  3. Any chance one can figure out the source of the content and block it at your router?

  4. Samsung’s UI is weak. I use a combo of TiVo and Roku, with occasional Chromecast when I need to cast my phone or tablet to the TV. My pioneer 822 A/V receiver let’s me choose which input with a single remote button.

  5. First we hear reliable reports that you’re stealing your mom’s Social Security checks, and now you’ve gone and bought her two hell-sets.

    Why are you such a bad son, Dave?

  6. “Samsung’s UI is weak. I use a combo of TiVo and Roku”

    This may be true. But your “solution” is resulting in you missing out on incredibly valuable offers from Dunkin’ Donuts.

  7. I removed my Samsung Smart TV from the network at the first ad. Now that I can get Netflix, Amazon and Hulu on my Roamio, I have no use for the Smart TV’s smartness any more.

  8. Actually, that’s an interesting point… does Roku and the set manufacturer split Roku UI ad revenue (generated via 1/3rd screen ads in app view and sponsored screensavers)? Hm.

    As for me, yeah I solved my Panasonic problem by turning off the WiFi except to periodically check for firmware updates. The Samsung has much better apps and functionality though, including the fairly useful DLNA. Blocking Samsung shenanigans at the router or setting up a second network could be worth looking into. Although simpler to turn it all off and use something else for streaming.

  9. I’d be very, very pissed if my TV started pumping commercials at me. I’m already not pleased that TiVo does so no a service I pay to use on a box that carries no subsidy and was quite expensive. I can’t imagine taking a TV home and having ads overlaid.

  10. This trend for “smart” devices is getting out of hand. yesterday someone told me about an LG sound bar that supported Netflix, etc. Ridiculous.

  11. I have multiple Samsung TV’s (UN50H6350, UN60H6350, UN65H6400 ), all from 2014, all connected via ethernet and I’ve never gotten a single ad overlay before. Strange.

  12. Yeah there is no good reason to get ads on your television from the manufacturer. Another reason not to get smart tvs or disable network access if they pull this stunts.

  13. I don’t mind how TiVo does it with the more info icon, which requires user interaction to activate. And even then it has always been on point to the content. A Dunkin interactive Widget over a Duncan ad if clicked on would be fine. Pulling ads up during TV shows or automatically during commercials is invasive. And overlaying ad widgets over other inputs like Apple TV is unforgivably invasive. That’s the Internet Death Penalty.

  14. I was binge watching the series Gracepoint on TiVo while multitasking on my iPad and continued through the commercials. I look up and it’s a Toyota commercial, then when I next lookup a third of the screen has a Toyota ad with buttons with directions to click and the rest of the screen is a commercial for Bounty towels. Never seen that before.

    I rewound when I realized I had missed a scene. Then FF though the Toyota commercial and Bounty commercial but noticed there was no Toyota ad. Rewind to the Toyota ad and let it roll and when the Bounty commercial comes up there is the Toyoto pop-up ad! My first thought was that TiVo put up the Toyota pop-up ad but I couldn’t get the TiVo remote to click on the buttons.

    So at this point iI realize it has to be my Samsung TV. I google “SyncPlus” which is in the pop-up ad and I find out it’s Samsung’s ads app. I had turned off ads so I just uninstalled the SyncPlus app and now no more pop-ups.

    At least there is a way to turn this off/uninstall the app unlike other pop-ups such as Samsung letting me know there is yet another firmware update.

  15. bryan10024, until they update it or reenable it as they did with Chartier. Or maybe they’ll make it mandatory next time. There’s really no telling what’s in the EULA’s we blow right by.

  16. Chucky World Industries is proud to announce today that we’ve licensed Samsung, LG, and Vizio to use our patent for overlay ads on black bars of content that is isn’t perfectly 16:9.

    Consumers hate black bars, so we think they’ll be pleased to see ads for Doritos™ and Toyota™ overlaying those unwelcome black bars.

    In addition, our VolumeSense™ technology will only play audio on the ads during quiet times in the video, thus not annoying our consumers. It’s win-win!

    (While we currently don’t have any takers for licenses for our patent on ad overlays to appear in boring blue skies in video, we continue to negotiate to further delight consumers.)

  17. Probably should have also referenced Slingbox’s newest feature… pre-roll video ads before you can watch your own television content. Nice!

    https://zatznotfunny.com/2014-12/slingplayer-hits-fire-tv-pre-roll-ads-to-follow/

    Chucky, sorry you weren’t exactly the first to pitch dead space advertising. Some of the advertising services I’m linked up with offer sidebars like that. Although kudos for bringing it to televisions.

  18. Yeah, Dave, that’s what I would wait for. My Samsung Blu-Ray player sits at a “looking for update server…” screen for about a minute before it gives up and finally agrees to play the BR disc I’ve inserted. It would certainly be possible in the current environment to get TVs to require updates periodically to support content that was encrypted over HDMI way, and that would no longer function after a while if you disabled internet access at the TV. We’ll see what direction this goes.

  19. “Probably should have also referenced Slingbox’s newest feature… pre-roll video ads before you can watch your own television content. Nice!”

    Awwww. That’s so cute. An input box that can toss up its own ads. It’s like a dog that can fetch a stick.

    “Chucky, sorry you weren’t exactly the first to pitch dead space advertising … Although kudos for bringing it to televisions.”

    Thanks for the support. Here at Chucky World Industries, our motto is: the chokepoint is the message.

    Why did Microsoft own the PC? Why does Google own the internet? Why does Apple own mobile? They own the chokepoints.

    And we figured, for lean-back video, why bother with input boxes, or MSO’s, or even content companies? The chokepoint in lean-back video is the sunk cost of the panel. By owning the OS of that, we can own the customer.

    “As for me, yeah I solved my Panasonic problem by turning off the WiFi except to periodically check for firmware updates.”

    At Chucky World Industries, we’ve solved the irritating problem of valued customers like you, who happen to be thieves and cheapies. The next generation of panels from our partners will feature our licensed version of Amazon’s Whispernet technology to use 3G to get around our valued customers who are too dense or too smart to conveniently connect to WiFi to serve our ads. We deeply resent having to bear the cost of transiting the ads, rather than being able to shift that burden to our valued customers, but we love our customers so very much that we’re willing to do this anyway.

    (As an added inducement, as an Echo customer, our Amazon partnership will benefit you in uncannily directly targetted ads.)

  20. You will not be disappointed with a dumb projector, size matters!

  21. We know many of you are saying: creating a lean-back dystopia by hijacking the teevee is so today. What are you doing for tomorrow? Don’t worry! Here at Chucky World Industries, we’ve amassed a massive patent portfolio and partner deals to be prepared to implement Not Ready For Prime Time dystopias.

    We’ll gradually be expanding from the Smart TV to the Smart Home. We’ve already struck binding deals with all major Smart light bulb manufacturers to silently upgrade their firmware to be able to project helpful ads on your walls and ceilings.

    But that only touches the surface. The key is to achieve synchronicity betwen the Smart Bulbs projected ads and other Smart Home appliances. (Yes, “synchronicity”. We’re disrupting the word “synergy”.)

    For one example, we have a preliminary deal in place to force your Smart Thermostat to reduce home temperature to 58° for several hours, while your Smart Bulbs project ads for tropical vacations. Another example in the works is to force the Smart Blinds in your bedroom to noisily clatter for 90 seconds at 4am, while your Smart Bulbs project ads for Ambien. (When we’ve tested that one in the wild, we’ve seen conversion rates of over 50%, as folks don’t seem consciously aware of the helpful ad serving the next day.)

    Through relentless innovation like this, our goal is to disrupt human sanity. We’re the Uber of Phillip K. Dick World.

    (And sorry, fans, all of our VC rounds are completely subscribed. You’ll just have to wait for the IPO like all the other suckers.)

  22. Just curious for those that are seeing these ads. What model Samsung tv do you have?

  23. Chucky – what you need is the smart home wall app that can overlay ads on the image from Dave’s projector – bonus points for imposing it on a drop down screen.

    Please see invoice *78^)*&_*&)^)987 from I>C>E (Insultant Consultant Enterprises) for setting up royal;ty payments. Reading this is agreement to pay. oops… too late.

  24. “Chucky – what you need is the smart home wall app that can overlay ads on the image from Dave’s projector – bonus points for imposing it on a drop down screen.”

    The thing is, our entire business model here at Chucky World Industries is to get the consumer to pay for the Smart Gear that we can then control, monetize, and use to destroy their sanity as collateral damage. So until Dave buys himself a Smart Wall, that kind of scenario would just be beyond our mission statement. However, I do hear that Smart Walls are really cool, so hope springs eternal.

    “Please see invoice *78^)*&_*&)^)987 from I>C>E (Insultant Consultant Enterprises) for setting up royal;ty payments. Reading this is agreement to pay. oops… too late.”

    The thing is, as I was explaining above, we don’t really need this techn… oh, god. Too late.

    Dammit. I always get caught by legally binding EULA’s and blog comments. I’ll get a cashier’s check FedExed to you within an hour. Please don’t send us to collections.

    This is almost as bad as that whole iTunes 7 EULA thing, when I unknowingly donated a liver to Steve Jobs. I’m lucky that I failed the final blood tests, but it was scary for a bit.

  25. Chucky World Industries will be filing suit against Samsung in the coming days. Our confidential contractual terms with Samsung, (and all of our other Smart TV partners), specifically prohibit warning customers against ‘loose lips’ for our Auditory Surveillance Initiative. This could well cause significant material damages to our highly profitable Blackmail & Extortion division, and vengeance will be ours.

    (Luckily for Samsung, they were at least smart enough to not identify us as the “Third Party”. If they had, we could have sued them right into bankruptcy.)