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No, YouTube, I will not subscribe to Premium

YouTube's aggressive Premium push is driving me away from the platform.

Published onSeptember 21, 2022

YouTube on smartphone stock photo 18
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

I am a working mom with an 11-month-old baby. What sort of picture does that paint for you? That of an individual who has little to no time to spare? Well, you’re right. I am neck-deep in it right now, and I’m sure there are many other folks, parents or not, who can empathize with an absolute dearth of leisurely time. You know what I’m talking about — those precious few minutes in the day to just lay back and watch a YouTube video or two. Thanks to Google’s aggressive YouTube Premium push, those moments no longer exist for me, and I am not alone.

For me, YouTube has always been more of a resource than a habit.

Where I live, YouTube Premium launched back in 2019. While the prospect of paying to watch YouTube videos without ads was an enticing one for many around me, the subscription service failed to win me over. It wasn’t for the lack of good quality content to watch on YouTube; it’s just that I was never an avid tuber in the first place.

For me, the platform has always been more of a resource than a habit. I only go to it for specific content and nothing more. Unlike die-hard YouTube consumers, I don’t subscribe to multiple channels and follow each and every video they put up. So paying to remove ads, watch YouTube in the background, or use the multiple other features a YouTube Premium subscription offers didn’t really make much sense to me. Little did I know YouTube wasn’t going to leave me be.

Pop! Goes my heart

Fast forward to 2022, and I cannot open YouTube without having an annoying pop-up urging me to subscribe to Premium. Before I even start my five minutes of streaming, I am constantly badgered to enroll in the free one-month Premium trial. I hit skip and start watching a video. God forbid I switch apps midway, and there it is again, another pop-up asking me to go Premium if I wish to continue watching the video in the background.

No, YouTube, I’ll never sign-up for Premium. I wish that were an option I could tap on the pop-up. Because even after dismissing the thing hundreds of times, YouTube clearly hasn’t gotten the message.

I'd rather take my video-watching business elsewhere.

The persistent, naggy YouTube Premium pop-up is unlikely to be a bug or an algorithm snag. Google surely wants to push its paid products over its free ones. Over the past year or so, the company has increased prices for most of its services, including Google Cloud, YouTube TV, Workspace, and more. I get that it’s Google’s prerogative to do so. After all, it’s a business, and price hikes can be influenced by several factors, including rising inflation and the need to remain competitive. But there’s no excuse for YouTube’s repeated hounding to go Premium. Not only is it self-destructive, given many like me promptly shut the app after seeing a pop-up for the millionth time, but it’s also anti-consumer.

Do you feel YouTube is pushing you to buy a Premium membership?

34283 votes

If being a free YouTube user means I have to put up with this aggressive pop-up, I’d rather take my video-watching business elsewhere. That said, the pop-up isn’t my only issue with YouTube right now. It’s also the burgeoning number of ads free users are forced to watch.

‘Ad’ding to the trouble

YouTube Premium Inside App Logo
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed that YouTube has progressively shown more and more ads to free users. I’ve seen up to five or six unskippable ads on videos that are just a few minutes long. Other users report they’ve had to endure as many as 11 ads before a video! That’s quite a price to pay for a free service.

hmm…this may happen with a certain type of ad format called bumper ads, since they’re only up to 6 seconds long. if you’d like, you can send feedback directly from YouTube via the send feedback tool
— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) September 7, 2022
That ain’t shit
— Sean Taylor (@SGT_FOW10) September 16, 2022

At this point, YouTube might as well be cable television. While the company clarified that these clubbed ads were part of some “small” global experiment (from hell) and that it has now concluded this whiplash, It’s unclear how much better the experience will be going forward.

Multiple unskippable ads in a row are not the only problem. Many folks have taken to Reddit to post about YouTube’s belligerent ad approach. Ad breaks have become longer and more frequent, and we are forced to watch the same ads over and over again during the same video.

This isn't cable TV. We shouldn't have five, six, or eleven unskippable ads before one short video.

Yes, creators usually have to allow ad breaks in their videos, but in 2020, YouTube changed its terms of service to introduce something known as the “Right to Monetize.” This enabled the company to display ads on all YouTube videos, not just those from members of the YouTube Partner Program (YPP).

Do you think ads on YouTube are getting out of control?

20477 votes

So essentially, free YouTube users ended up seeing more ads everywhere, even on videos that aren’t monetized. At the same time, non-YPP creators realized they have no control over the ads that are displayed on their content. Two years later, this policy shift may as well be the reason we’re seeing so many more ads on YouTube than ever before.

The TikTok threat

TikTok app
Adam Birney / Android Authority

If the last few years are proof, Google’s monopoly in the video streaming market is fast fading. Last year, TikTok reportedly overtook YouTube in average watch times in the US and UK. Google still has the larger platform, with almost double the users of the Chinese streamer. However, people are apparently spending more time watching TikTok videos than content on YouTube. That’s saying something for a platform that sprang up just six years ago as opposed to YouTube’s 17-year-long run.

YouTube's aggressive strategy is hurling people towards its competition.

While there’s still time for a formal change of guard as far as the YouTube vs TikTok competition is concerned, the strategy YouTube is using to push free users towards Premium subscriptions may just drive more people to its competition. I know I have drastically reduced the time I spend watching YouTube videos.

What’s your take? Have more ads and incessant subscription pop-ups pushed you to pay for YouTube premium? Have they in any way affected your use of the service? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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