YouTube is taking steps to block 3rd-party ad-blockers

Mike Wheatley

YouTube is escalating its war against third-party applications and browser extensions that make it possible to view the service without being disturbed by its revenue-generating ads. It’s reportedly threatening to block those services from accessing its platform, unless they start displaying those ads.


The Google-owned business has already prevailed in its war against YouTube Vanced, shutting down what was once the most popular tool for ad-free YouTube viewing without paying for a premium subscription.

But after Vanced’s closure, a new breed of open-source apps and clients emerged to take its place, enabling the same, ad-free viewing experience on YouTube. Some of the more popular ones include NewPipe, SmartTube and SkyTube, which are compatible with various Android TVs.

In response to the rise of these alternatives, Google has published a post entitled “Enforcement on Third Party Apps” on one of its support forums, detailing the steps it’s planning to take to eliminate them and force everyone to ‘enjoy’ its full, ad-littered experience.

The company explained that it is “strengthening” its enforcement on third-party apps that violate the YouTube Terms of Service, and it has ad-blocking apps in its crosshairs.

It hasn’t explained exactly how it will prevent those apps from accessing YouTube content, but it says those who use them can expect to see “buffering issues” or error messages that explain “the following content is not available on this app” when trying to watch YouTube videos through them.

“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 their viewership, and Ads on YouTube help support creators and let billions of people around the world use the streaming service,” Google explained. “We also understand that some people prefer an entirely ad-free experience, which is why we offer YouTube Premium.”

The company said third-party apps are only allowed to use the YouTube API when they follow its terms of service, and warned that when it finds an application that violates those terms, “we will take appropriate action to protect our platform, creators and viewers.”

Google’s plan of action involves limiting or disrupting access to its videos in third-party apps in order to dissuade people from using them. The company said third-party clients can start using the YouTube API to display ads if they want to remain functional. But, it seems unlikely that they will, considering their entire reason for existing is to block those annoying ads.

Those who use third-party ad-blocking clients to enjoy an ad-free YouTube experience should, in other words, brace themselves. For the free ride they have enjoyed could be about to come crashing to a halt.