Google experiments with more ads and limited access to 4K content on YouTube

Mike Wheatley

Google is apparently causing a bit of upset amid rumours that YouTube could be planning to introduce extended, unskippable series of adverts and limit 4K resolution streams to Premium subscribers only.


The company is reportedly testing new initiatives with random users that include displaying up to 12 ads in a row - none of which can be skipped.

YouTube offers a Premium subscription tier that removes all ads and provides a few extra perks, and it seems that the company is now trying to come up with more ways to convince users to pay for it.

A report from PC Mag cites multiple Reddit users who say they have recently started seeing lots more ads on YouTube content and that it’s not possible to skip past them.

Google has responded, saying in a statement to PCMag that it’s all part of a new “experiment”.

“We ran small experiment globally that served multiple ads in an ad pod when viewers watched longer videos on connected TVs,” the company explained. Apparently, it’s all about providing a “better experience” for users, by reducing the number of ad breaks. So instead of multiple ads popping up throughout longer videos, you’ll apparently just get one long streak of successive ads, that cannot be skipped, but less interruptions after that.

Cynics will of course believe that Google is simply more interested in adding new Premium subscribers than providing a “better experience”. To that end, it is also experimenting with limiting 4K streams to Premium users only, according to Reddit users. The limitations have, so far, only been applied to a limited number of users, and it’s not clear if everyone will suffer the same fate. Presumably, 8K content would also be restricted under this plan. If so that would be a big shame, as YouTube is currently one of the only free sources of 8K content available anywhere.

Whether or not Google’s experiments become permanent remains to be seen. What is clear is that Google is definitely looking at ways to make YouTube’s Premium tier seem more attractive. So, some sort of changes are likely to happen in the not too distant future that makes the “free” version of YouTube less attractive.

While Google will undoubtedly be criticized if it goes ahead with its restrictions on 4K content, it wouldn’t be the first streaming provider to introduce limitations. Already, Netflix limits 4K, HDR and Dolby Atmos to subscribers of its premium plan.