It's not just you – YouTube ads on smart TVs are getting painfully long

A TV on a yellow background showing a YouTube advert
(Image credit: Future)

If you've been watching YouTube on your TV lately and wondering why the ads feel like they're getting longer, there's a good reason – the site is rolling out longer commercials, while promising that they'll at least be less frequent than before.

YouTube's new blog post describes how it's making the streaming service "more helpful" for viewers (and, in particular, advertisers). These experiments, which mean you could see a countdown timer as long as 200 seconds in the bottom corner of long-form videos, are now rolling out globally.

YouTube says its research shows that viewers prefer knowing the total time remaining before they can skip, rather than the number of ads – so that's what you'll see soon in a "skip in" countdown timer, if you haven't already.

These changes are specific to watching YouTube on connected TVs, either through built-in smart platforms or the best streaming boxes like Apple TV. And now, even YouTube Shorts will include ads on your TV – a new change for the big screen that could make them less appealing as little bite-size video nuggets.

YouTube says that the global popularity of watching YouTube Shorts on connected TVs has "exploded" this year – though a big reason for that is that YouTubers have had to include them in their output to maintain visibility on the platform.

So while YouTube is keen to promote these advertising changes as "improvements" to both long-form and Shorts content on smart TVs, you'll soon be able to make up your own mind – while sitting through a break that feels remarkably like watching cable or broadcast TV from a previous era.

Analysis: Cranking up the dial

A TV on a yellow background showing a YouTube advert

(Image credit: Future)

YouTube may be selling these ad changes as a user-friendly improvement to its streaming service, but they're also part of a wider push towards encouraging YouTube Premium sign-ups and cracking down on ad blockers.

Earlier this month YouTube confirmed that it was ramping up its global efforts to hit ad blockers by serving warning notices to users confirming that, as Google's Help page states, using ad blockers "violates YouTube’s Terms of Service". This year we also saw YouTube Premium get a price hike and the discontinuation of the cheaper YouTube Premium Lite.

I've started to see the longer ad breaks while watching YouTube on my Apple TV and the experience makes it feel much more like watching traditional cable or broadcast TV, compared to the previous option of skipping them after only 5-10 seconds. 

Also, while the ad breaks are apparently less frequent, I have seen the new, longer ones appear several times throughout some videos – and YouTube doesn't say how much this affects the total amount of time we'll be watching ads on the service.

So while your experience may vary, get ready to watch longer ads on YouTube during the Christmas holidays – unless you end up getting tempted by YouTube Premium and its new AI-powered features.

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Mark Wilson
Senior news editor

Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at both TechRadar and Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.