YouTube is experimenting with longer but less frequent ad breaks on TV


YouTube is considering changing how and when it shows ads during videos on its main app on connected TVs. One of those changes is more infrequent but longer ad breaks that won’t interrupt what you’re watching as often.

Instead of showing short ads interspersed throughout a video, YouTube is trying out longer chunks of ads for non-Premium subscribers that appear in the middle of the content. It’s still not clear how long these new ad breaks will last, as Nicky Rettke, the head of YouTube’s ad products team, tells The Verge that there isn’t a set length.

“There are a lot of factors that go into deciding when to show an ad break… so it’s a bit dynamic,” Rettke says. “The overall change is that we’re going to continue to have those dynamic times between ad breaks, but the average interruptions are going to go down.”

YouTube is also experimenting with a more straightforward ad countdown timer that shows how many more seconds until you can either skip the ad or when it ends. In place of the “video will play after ads” message in the bottom-right corner of the ad, you’ll see a countdown timer with the remaining time for the ads.

YouTube’s countdown timer currently shows how many ads you’ll see during the break in the top-left corner of the screen, along with how much longer you’ll have to sit through the current ad. You can see how the two versions compare in the GIF embedded above.

As a person who frequently watches YouTube on my TV, I’d really appreciate less interruptive ad breaks — even if they do run a little long. But this feature and the new countdown timer are still in the experimentation phase, so only a small set of users will encounter these changes for now.

“We’re continuously experimenting and innovating what changes… and we’ll do user research to see if these changes are positive for our viewers, advertisers, and creators,” Rettke adds. “If they are then we’ll proceed with updating the experience and launching it for everybody.”


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