YouTube has begun threatening to block video players for using an ad blocker - still in test mode

A good number of YouTube users who don't want to pay the Premium subscription fee of $13.99 per month or $139.99 per year to disable ads on the platform, among other things, simply use ad blockers.

Aug 16, 2023 - 13:10
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YouTube has begun threatening to block video players for using an ad blocker - still in test mode

It looks like the video hosting has found a way to deal with it. Some YouTube users complain that the platform has threatened to block their video player if they systematically use ad blockers.

Some users have noticed that when using ad blockers, at some point a message appears in the YouTube player window saying that after three subsequent ad-blocked videos are launched, the video player will be disabled. The problem was brought to the attention of Android Authority, which provided a screenshot of the message (below).

Speaking to The Verge, a YouTube spokesperson confirmed that the platform is currently running "a small global experiment that encourages users to disable ad blockers or subscribe to YouTube Premium."

"The feature to identify ad blockers is not new. Other publishers regularly ask viewers to disable ad blockers," a spokesperson for Google, which owns the YouTube platform, commented in an email correspondence with The Verge.

The company specifies that users using ad blockers will receive several messages urging them to disable them or alternatively subscribe to YouTube Premium. If the user then continues to ignore the platform's persistent requests, YouTube's video player will be turned off and no videos can be viewed until the user disables the ad blocker or subscribes to YouTube Premium.

"We take the issue of disabling playback very seriously and will only resort to this if viewers ignore repeated requests for permission to show YouTube ads. In cases where viewers believe they have been falsely labeled as using an ad blocker, they can report it by clicking the link at the bottom of the blocking window," the Google spokesperson added.

This implies that YouTube is seriously tightening its stance on ad blockers. The platform justifies the move on the grounds that ad integrations are crucial for video creators who want to be compensated for their content, but the platform itself would then remain free to use.

"YouTube's advertising model is designed to support a diverse ecosystem of creators and provides billions of people around the world with ad-free access to content," the company said in a statement.

As The Verge notes, YouTube is increasingly testing the patience of its users by experimenting with more intrusive advertising approaches. For example, last September, the platform showed up to 10 commercials in a single ad unit with no skip option. In May this year, the video service announced that 30-second commercials would appear on YouTube-enabled TVs.

Last November, the company announced that the number of YouTube Premium and YouTube Music subscribers exceeded 80 million people. So while protecting the revenue of content creators is a noble excuse for the platform, it's pretty clear that the company is still interested in getting more people into its monthly subscription service.

"We want to inform viewers that ad blockers violate YouTube's Terms of Use and make it easier for them to decide whether to allow ads on YouTube or alternatively offer them YouTube Premium without ads," a spokesperson commented in a conversation with The Verge.

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