YouTube is cracking down on ad blockers globally

Viewers have to enable ads if they don't want to pay for the $14-a-month YouTube Premium.

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YouTube is no longer preventing just a small subset of its userbase from accessing its videos if they have an ad blocker. The platform has gone all out in its fight against the use of add-ons, extensions and programs that prevent it from serving ads to viewers around the world, it confirmed to Engadget. "The use of ad blockers violate YouTube's Terms of Service," a spokesperson told us. "We've launched a global effort to urge viewers with ad blockers enabled to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium for an ad free experience. Ads support a diverse ecosystem of creators globally and allow billions to access their favorite content on YouTube."

YouTube started cracking down on the use of ad blockers earlier this year. It initially showed pop-ups to users telling them that it's against the website's TOS, and then it put a timer on those notifications to make sure people read it. By June, it took on a more aggressive approach and warned viewers that they wouldn't be able to play more than three videos unless they disable their ad blockers. That was a "small experiment" meant to urge users to enable ads or to try YouTube Premium, which the website has now expanded to its entire userbase. Some people can't even play videos on Microsoft Edge and Firefox browsers even if they don't have ad blockers, according to Android Police, but we weren't able to replicate that behavior.

People are unsurprisingly unhappy about the development and have taken to social networks like Reddit to air their grievances. If they don't want to enable ads, after all, the only way they can watch videos with no interruptions is to pay for a YouTube Premium subscription. Indeed, the notification viewers get heavily promotes the subscription service. "Ads allow YouTube to stay free for billions of users worldwide," it says. But with YouTube Premium, viewers can go ad-free, and "creators can still get paid from [their] subscription."

The website raised Premium's rates to $14 a month in July from $12 before that. YouTube Premium also gives users access to offline viewing, background playback and higher-quality 1080p streaming, but it could be too expensive for those who just want an ad-free experience. The platform used to offer a more affordable option called Premium Lite in certain European regions, and it only cost €7 ($7.42) a month to remove advertisements from videos. However, it never made Lite available worldwide and ultimately killed that option by the end of October.