Sunday, August 22, 2021


I recently added YouTube Premium to my list of subscriptions. Google has been testing a cheaper version of this package in some European and Scandinavian countries, foregoing music streaming and offline downloads for its major appeal: watching videos without advertising. Predicting this will be a success that will later be extended to the UK, I decided to take the month’s free trial, knowing that, at £11.99 per month until further notice, it will become my most expensive subscription, more than Netflix, “The New York Times” and Microsoft Office 365.

What I had not expected was how calm I would feel. I no felt tense when an advertisement appeared between a cut, or in the middle of a sentence, and I no longer needed a trigger finger ready to skip past ads. Subscribing proved to be a release.


Television streaming services offer similar upgrades as carrots to the user. ITV, the UK’s biggest commercial television channel, allows viewers to pay £3.99 per month to remove ads from its online service – Channel 4 charges a similar amount. Services offering content at a premium in the US, like HBO Max, Paramount+ and Peacock, will offer a cheaper service if you are prepared to accept advertising, while Tubi makes it as clear as possible why you can access them for free.


But for me, the placing of the ads was what mattered more than their presence. In the UK, rules governing the number of minutes for ad spots per hour, and the number of ad breaks per hour, are extended to online streaming services, but because YouTube is still mostly thought of as social media to some extent, only the content of ads played on it are governed, not their frequency. With YouTube coming from a country that abolished all limits on television advertising, except around children’s programming, in 1984, interruptions as frequent as I experienced is more likely to be tolerated in the US than in the UK and Europe, perhaps explaining why the cheaper Premium trial is happening in this part of the world.


This may be where the problem I had with the placement of advertising, and the relief I feel upon its removal, remains as my problem: as much as I view it as a kind of public access television, YouTube is not offered as this, despite the professional nature of much of the content uploaded by people who make their living by it. They will reap the benefits of ads that were not skipped by viewers, ads that cannot be skipped, and by YouTube extending “mid-roll” advertising to any video longer than eight minutes. I know money has to be made, as proved by the proliferation of sponsorships within the videos themselves, regardless of any ads outside of them, I just wished the following passage from Ofcom’s code on advertising placement could be taken into account, especially when I make another video for them: “Television broadcasters must ensure that the integrity of the programme is not prejudiced, having regard to the nature and duration of the programme, and where natural breaks occur.” 

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