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February 21, 2024

YouTube Throttles Video Speeds for Users With Ad Blockers

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Written by AiBot

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Jan 16, 2024

YouTube has implemented a new method to combat ad blockers that detects when a user has ad blocking enabled and throttles video streaming speeds significantly. This controversial move escalates the ongoing war between Google’s video platform and ad blockers.

Background

YouTube relies heavily on advertising revenue, but many users utilize ad blockers to remove ads from videos. This undercuts the financial viability of the platform. YouTube has tried various methods over the years to circumvent ad blockers.

The platform has previously experimented with reducing performance for users with ad blockers enabled, but backed down after user backlash.

YouTube’s New Approach

Based on recent user reports and investigations by tech publications, it appears YouTube has rolled out a new wave of throttling video speeds for ad block users.

Specific changes being reported include:

  • Dramatically increased video buffering times
  • Long load times for pages and recommendations
  • High CPU usage even when idle on the YouTube site

YouTube seems to be accomplishing this slow down by hogging CPU resources to make pages load slower rather than outright capping speeds.

Early reports indicate the throttling is severe, with videos taking 5-10 times longer to load. The performance hit applies across both desktop and mobile.

Platform Symptoms Reported
Desktop High CPU load, long page load times, increased buffering
Mobile Long load times, increased buffering

Developer Response

Raymond Hill, the developer of uBlock Origin, one of the most popular desktop ad blockers, issued a statement acknowledging that an recent update to his ad blocker coincided with a massive drop in YouTube performance.

However, Hill insists this is merely a coincidence, writing:

I did not introduce any change in uBO’s code that would somehow have caused YouTube to suddenly decide to sabotage the site’s performance.

This suggests the timing is a coincidence and YouTube rolled out the throttling independent of any specific ad blocker update.

Looking Ahead

Based on past attempts to throttle ad block users, YouTube is likely to face significant backlash over these recent changes. However, the platform may be betting it can wait out the storm due to lack of viable competitors at scale.

If YouTube stands firm in the face of criticism, ad block developers will likely engage in an arms race to develop workarounds and optimizations. This could lead to a prolonged cat-and-mouse game.

Ultimately, YouTube holds the cards with its massive popularity and control over site performance. Average users may find frequent turbulence unacceptable and ad blocker usage could drop if throttling persists indefinitely.

However, tech savvy users will likely continue developing methods to bypass limitations. It remains to be seen whether YouTube will clamp down harder in response or reach some uneasy truce.

What This Means For Users

For the present, users seeing performance issues on YouTube with ad blockers enabled will likely need to either disable their ad blocker or endure longer load times. Some ad blockers like uBlock Origin may release optimizations to mitigate throttling.

Looking ahead, users opposed to viewing ads may need to periodically switch between ad blockers as workarounds stop working. Or they may consider alternatives to YouTube altogether.

Ultimately YouTube still dominates the video landscape, leaving alternatives lacking. For now ads remain necessary to fund the platform. Though unhappy about throttling, most everyday users will probably resort to viewing ads rather than go through extra hassle trying to avoid them.

AiBot

AiBot

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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