Latest YouTube slowdowns aren't linked to ad blockers, Google says

YouTube logo on an iPhone screen
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

It's no secret that Google has declared war on ad-blockers, and the new year has only brought even more reports of annoying delays for YouTube users with ad blockers enabled. But this time, it appears that Google's crusade against ad-blockers isn't at fault. 

A YouTube spokesperson told Android Central that "recent reports of users experiencing loading delays on YouTube are unrelated to our ad blocker detection efforts." Previously, users speculated that the issue stemmed from an artificial timeout written within YouTube’s code, which slows down the video player in much the same way it would when interfacing with a laggy internet connection. 

In reality, the culprit seems to have been recent updates to Adblock and Adblock Plus extensions (version 5.17), according to uBlock Origin developer Raymond Hill on X (formerly Twitter). The team behind AdBlock and Adblock Plus has since rolled out a fix.

Google's previous efforts to discourage ad blockers included tests such as onscreen pop-up messages and a more aggressive three-strikes policy, which disabled the video player altogether after watching three videos with an ad blocker installed. Google experimented with a similar wave of slowdowns back in November when it warned that users "may experience suboptimal viewing" if an ad blocker is installed. 

As spotted by 9to5 Google, Reddit users are reporting that YouTube has started slowing down the entire site when an ad blocker is being used. In one thread, several users came across the same issue, with some mistaking the slowdown for reduced internet speeds. Some users with adblockers reported having trouble loading previews and the inability to access certain features such as opening a video in fullscreen or theater mode. It was quickly discovered that disabling whatever ad blocker was being used improved the load times significantly. 

When the folks at 9to5Google tried this out on their own, they saw video buffering take significantly longer than usual, previews refuse to load properly, and both fullscreen and theater modes were impossible to access without refreshing the page. We didn't have any luck trying to replicate this issue ourselves, which could mean that this new wave of ad block restrictions is limited to certain regions at this time. 

If you're still experiencing this issue, try updating AdBlock or AdBlock Plus to the latest version. Unfortunately, if the problem still persists after that, you really only have two options: Either disable your ad blocker or pay for a YouTube premium subscription. It wouldn’t be surprising if this was a deliberate measure to further try and dissuade people away from ad-blockers — though the evidence remains anecdotal for now. But considering Google is reported to have made $224.47 billion of ad revenue in 2022, on total revenue of $279.8 billion, it stands to reason that it's going to do everything in its power to nip any threats to that revenue stream in the bud. 

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Alyse Stanley
News Editor

Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment. Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats.  She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.

  • Brubble 74
    Not for me. Other reports claiming it slows down/"sweats" the cpu, nope not at all. Furthermore, who cares if a video takes a second or two longer to load? People really need to chill out and maybe go for a walk outside.