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YouTube is testing fewer ad breaks on TV, but there's bad news

The service will show fewer but longer ads in an attempt to provide a less disruptive TV experience.

Published onSeptember 7, 2023

The YouTube homescreen on Roku
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
  • YouTube is testing longer but fewer ad breaks on smart TVs and connected TV experiences, in line with how viewers watch content on these platforms.
  • The company is also exploring displaying the countdown timer for the ad break in a more prominent fashion.

YouTube has become the go-to platform for many for their daily entertainment needs, whether on mobile or. In fact, YouTube says that the service is leading streaming watch time on connected TVs for the ninth month in a row in the US. YouTube TV has a diverse selection of channels to explore if you want to cut your cable cord completely. With that being said, the service appears to be inching closer to the cable TV experience, as YouTube is now exploring longer but fewer ads on its TV experience.

Longer but fewer ad breaks

As the company says in its announcement blog post, YouTube is testing a different approach to ads on smart TVs and connected TV experiences (like smart TV boxes and game consoles). 65% of YouTube’s watch time on these devices in the US is 21 minutes or longer, and frequent short ads can be highly annoying and disruptive to this experience.

YouTube will now show fewer but longer ad breaks to some smart TV and connected TV viewers in the US. The rationale is that this will create a more seamless viewing experience on the bigger screen, as ads will be grouped together instead of being distributed throughout a video.

The next time you want to watch the hottest new show of the week, be prepared to have a more extended ad break. If that experience is too annoying for your taste, consider paying for YouTube Premium.

Ad breaks on cable TV in many regions worldwide already mimic this format of ads, where several shorter ads are grouped into a few breaks. Ironically, YouTube is moving closer to the very structure that cable TV adopted.

More prominent ad break countdown

Further, the company is also experimenting with how ad length is shown to users. Previously, YouTube would show the number of ads, the total ad duration, and a “seconds to skip” counter on the skip button position.

Now, the service will remove these details and show only a “seconds to skip” counter in a prominent fashion. The company says that this change comes from its research, where most viewers prefer knowing the total time remaining in the ad break versus the number of ads being served.

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