Your days spent watching YouTube with an ad blocker enabled may soon be over. In what the company is calling a “small experiment,” select users are currently being told to turn off their ad blocker or subscribe to Premium. The punishment if you don’t? Access to video playback gets shut off.
If you’re subject to this limitation, you’ll see a pop-up message that says, “It looks like you may be using an ad blocker. Video playback will be blocked unless YouTube is allowlisted or the ad blocker is disabled.” It also states that ads “allow YouTube to stay free for billions of users worldwide,” and that to stay ad free, a subscription to YouTube Premium is necessary. Three video thumbnail slots appear in the notification as well, which presumably fill in as you slowly chew through your limit.
u/Reddit_n_Me / Reddit
The first sightings of this test surfaced on June 28 (as spotted by Bleeping Computer), when Reddit users began sharing their encounters with the new warning. It follows not long after a similar experiment in May (also reported on Reddit), which blocked access to all videos immediately. But this time around, users get a grace period of several videos before playback gets shut off.
In a statement to Bleeping Computer, YouTube explained it is “running a small experiment globally that urges users with ad blockers enabled to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium.” The company also says that it will disable playback for users who persist in using an ad blocker, despite the warnings. Exactly where and how widely YouTube is running this test is not currently known.
One possible reason for the sudden intolerance of ad blockers: YouTube’s drop in ad revenue between the first quarter of 2022 and 2023, as reported by TechCrunch in April. Meanwhile, YouTube’s growing subscriber base, which currently stands at 80 million subscribers, for its Premium and Music services is growing. It gained over 30 million subscribers between 2021 and 2022.
Alaina Yee is PCWorld's resident bargain hunter—when she's not covering software, PC building, and more, she's scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.