YouTube is becoming unwatchable for ad block users – thanks to this powerful new crackdown tactic

YouTube is becoming unwatchable for ad block users – thanks to this powerful new crackdown tactic
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The battle between YouTube and ad blockers is heating up again, with some YouTube users reporting that videos are now auto-skipping to the end if they’re using extensions to block advertisements.

The new YouTube tactic has been widely reported on Reddit (via 9to5Google), with ad blocker users revealing that video playback immediately skips to the end of their video. This apparently continues to happen even if the video is immediately replayed.

While Google hasn’t officially stated that this is a new tactic for dealing with ad blockers, it has escalated its crackdown on apps and extensions that remove advertisements in its videos over the past few months. 

For example, in April a Google post in a YouTube Community forum stated that viewers who use third-party apps like NewPipe “may experience buffering issues or see the error “The following content is not available on this app” when trying to watch a video”.

This new auto-skipping behavior appears to affect multiple ad-blocking extensions including AdBlock, although there’s some evidence that uBlock Origin has already found a workaround for the issue.

The other solution, of course, is to subscribe to YouTube Premium ($13.99 / £12.99 / AU$32.99 a month), which is undoubtedly what YouTube is pushing users towards with its ad block crackdown. But its tactics are seemingly nudging many towards doubling down on ad blockers, resulting in a game of whack-a-mole that’s likely to run for a long time.

Is Premium worth it?

A YouTube Premium menu on a tablet

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

YouTube argues that using ad blockers “prevents the creator from being rewarded for viewership” and that the site’s increasingly long advertisements “help support creators and let billions of people around the world use the streaming service”.

The problem is that, with those advertisements becoming increasingly lengthy and unskippable, many users feel that YouTube is increasingly looking to boost its own bottom line as much as its creators’ income.

In a parallel to Netflix’s password-sharing crackdown, there is evidence that YouTube’s ad blocker is working – back in November, ZDNet reported that Google’s tactics had led to a record number of users uninstalling their ad blockers. And in February, YouTube reported that it had hit a new milestone of 100 million YouTube Music and Premium subscribers.

But with YouTube Premium also recently getting its biggest price hike in years, many are still holding out and using ad blockers and extensions like YouTube Enhancer to preserve an ad-free experience. With YouTube ramping up its battle with ad blockers, though, the game of cat-and-mouse will likely become increasingly hard-fought.

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