I could fix YouTube's ad blocking problem in five minutes but the company won't listen to you or me

YouTube on Android phone
(Image credit: Jay Bonggolto / Android Central | Future)

What you need to know

  • YouTube is blocking third-party apps from bypassing or removing ads.
  • The company said it "will take appropriate action to protect our platform, creators, and viewers," which includes preventing apps from blocking ads.
  • YouTube pushed to stop the removal of ads within browsers starting in October 2023 and has now extended its efforts to third-party apps.
  • Those who attempt to watch YouTube videos in an app that removes ads may run into buffering pr see a warning that states "the following content is not available on this app."

YouTube is working hard to keep ads on its platform. In October 2023, the company pushed against ad blockers removing YouTube ads in the browser. Now, YouTube is taking the fight to third-party apps that bypass ads. YouTube explained the move in a new post titled "Enforcement on Third Party Apps."

"Viewers who are using these third-party apps may experience buffering issues or see the error “The following content is not available on this app” when trying to watch a video," explained YouTube.

"We want to emphasize that our terms don’t allow third-party apps to turn off ads because that prevents the creator from being rewarded for viewership, and Ads on YouTube help support creators and let billions of people around the world use the streaming service. We also understand that some people prefer an entirely ad-free experience, which is why we offer YouTube Premium."

YouTube is a massive platform that houses a vast range of content. As highlighted by  YouTube, creators make money based on the views content receives. For monetization to work, viewers need to view ads or pay for content through YouTube Premium. The issue is that YouTube Premium isn't a standalone service, which limits people's options if all they want to do is remove ads.

How to fix YouTube's ad problem

YouTube running on Mozilla Firefox

YouTube wants people to either pay $14 per month or view ads and refuses to have anything in between. (Image credit: Kevin Okemwa)

I have a quick and easy way for YouTube to fix its ad blocking problem, and it's a solution the company is already aware of. Rather than having the only option to remove ads be a $14 YouTube Premium subscription that comes with YouTube Music and perks people don't want, give people a more affordable option that just removes ads.

There will always be users that block or remove ads, but a large number of people are okay with either reasonable ads or an affordable way to remove them. Having multiple ads, especially unskippable ones, before a short YouTube video is not reasonable. Having the only option to remove those ads as a bundle that include another service isn't reasonable either.

If this idea sounds familiar, it's because it already existed. YouTube Premium Lite was available for select users in Europe for two years. Sadly, YouTube Premium Lite was killed in October 2023. The subscription cost €6.99 and removed ads from the platform, but it did not include YouTube Music, support for background playback, or offline downloads. It was the perfect middle ground between free and Premium, but YouTube didn't like it.

Without access to YouTube's financial books, I can't say for sure why the company ended YouTube Premium Lite or why the subscription never rolled out to more countries. I assume YouTube Premium Lite didn't make enough money to justify existing and that it cannibalized YouTube's model of bundling services together to create a value proposition.

I'm hardly the first person to come up with this idea. People have called for a standalone YouTube Premium that just removes ads for years, and there was one for a short time for some regions. Many already have Spotify, Apple Music, or don't want to pay for a music streaming service. Offline viewing and background playback aren't valuable to everyone. YouTube needs to give people the option to just block ads for a reasonable rate.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.