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YouTube takes aim at third-party apps like SmartTube & NewPipe

18 Apr 2024 | Rasmus Larsen |

Google-owned YouTube is escalating its battle against third-party clients and apps that enable ad-free viewing, threatening to effectively block access if they do not start displaying ads.

Google won its battle against YouTube Vanced in 2022, shutting down the most popular alternative for ad-free viewing to paying the monthly YouTube Premium subscription.

Following the shutdown of Vanced, a new wave of open-source clients and apps emerged to watch YouTube ad-free. Popular options include NewPipe, SkyTube and SmartTube. The latter is compatible with Android-based TVs, including Android TV, Google TV, and FireTV.

Google tightens its grip

However, ad-blocking apps may not remain functional for long, according to an official post labeled 'Enforcement on Third Party Apps' posted on Google's support forum. Here is the full text:
We’re strengthening our enforcement on third-party apps that violate YouTube’s Terms of Service, specifically ad-blocking apps. Viewers who are using these third-party apps may experience buffering issues or see the error “The following content is not available on this app” when trying to watch a video. We want to emphasize that our terms don’t allow third-party apps to turn off ads because that prevents the creator from being rewarded for viewership, and Ads on YouTube help support creators and let billions of people around the world use the streaming service. We also understand that some people prefer an entirely ad-free experience, which is why we offer YouTube Premium. We only allow third-party apps to use our API when they follow our API Services Terms of Service, and when we find an app that violates these terms, we will take appropriate action to protect our platform, creators, and viewers.

Expect changes

As outlined in the post, Google is planning to instead limit or disrupt access to its videos in third-party apps in an effect to impact the user experience. To remain functional, third-party clients are invited to begin using YouTube's API to display ads. However, most of these apps are currently designed to exclude any ad-related code, making this scenario seem unlikely. Also read: YouTube is now blocking ad-blockers worldwide Either way, you should expect changes if you currently use ad-blocking third-party clients to access YouTube. The new policy is an extension of YouTube's previous actions against ad-blockers. - Source: Google via Ars Technica

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