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Spot where YouTube TV gives break from ads now getting ads (Update: Statement)

Your ad-free breaks getting ads is peak YouTube.
By

Published onJune 20, 2023

TL;DR
  • Google is testing a new way to show YouTube TV ads, as confirmed by the company.
  • Ads are appearing during the previously ad-free “Zen” moments.
  • Google is just testing this for now, as only select users see the advertisements.

Update, June 20, 2023 (01:43 PM ET): We have received a statement from a YouTube spokesperson related to this news. The statement, in full, is printed below:

We’re running an experiment that allows advertisers to associate their brand with relaxing moments on YouTube TV, without interrupting a feature viewers enjoy. We don’t have anything to announce right now.

It looks like our theory was correct here. We’ll just need to wait and see if these tests roll out on a wider scale and if Google adopts the new system for all users across the board.


Original article, June 19, 2023 (11:46 AM ET): If you’re a YouTube TV subscriber, you likely have seen a “Zen” moment at some point. These are peaceful video clips that play in a spot where you’d usually be seeing an advertisement if you were watching that particular program on traditional cable. It’s a nice break from the deluge of ads you’ll usually get during a show.

However, it appears Google is trying to make these ad-free moments a new place to put YouTube TV ads. According to users on Reddit, some people are seeing text-based ads overlayed on top of the Zen video clips. In the image above, shared by a Redditor, you can see the logo for Progressive on top of the usual Zen clip.

According to the thread, not everyone has seen one of these ads. It’s very possible Google is doing some A/B testing, so only certain users will see them. We have reached out to Google for a statement and will update this article if and when we hear back.

Obviously, these Zen spots are a prime space to sell ads. In fact, we’re surprised they haven’t always been full-on video ads. However, it is nevertheless disappointing to see Google toying with the idea of bringing ads — however subtle — to the one place in the world of YouTube that isn’t smothered in advertisements.

Hopefully, these new YouTube TV ads don’t test well, and Google will leave the Zen moments alone. For now, though, go ahead and assume that won’t be the case in the future.