Google is cracking down on third-party apps that block YouTube ads


In context: Google began ramping up its crackdown on ad blockers last year when it started restricting YouTube video playback for people using ad-blocking software. The company is now expanding that crackdown to cover third-party apps that let users stream YouTube videos while skipping all advertising.

In a support document, Google said that users attempting to access YouTube videos through third-party apps with built-in ad-blocking could experience buffering issues or see an error that reads “The following content is not available on this app.”

Google also stated that it only allows developers to use the official YouTube API as long as they follow its terms of service, which do not allow third-party apps to turn off ads. The company warned that it will take “appropriate action” against apps that violate these terms, but did not explicitly state what those actions might be.

Google also noted that some users might want a fully ad-free YouTube experience and advised them to subscribe to YouTube Premium. While the service starts at $13.99 per month for individuals when subscribing on the web or through the Android app, it costs $18.99 monthly for users who sign up using the YouTube app on their iPhone or iPad. For people who would rather not deal with the hassle of monthly payments, YouTube offers a discounted annual rate of $139.99.

YouTube began cracking down on ad-blockers last year, restricting users’ ability to circumvent ads while watching videos. The crackdown was first noticed last May when Redditors and social media users started reporting that people using ad-blockers were seeing a pop-up prompting them to switch off their blocking software. People who chose to ignore the message found themselves restricted to watching no more than three videos.

A few months later, the company expanded its crackdown globally and started shutting off ad-blocker users from accessing YouTube entirely. As part of the plan, the company started showing a message that read “video playback is blocked unless YouTube is allowlisted or the ad blocker is disabled.” While users could still circumvent the ad-block crackdown by using some third-party apps, even that workaround is now being eliminated, meaning the only way to enjoy an ad-free YouTube experience now will be to sign up for YouTube Premium.


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